DWR Finalized Basin Prioritizations Under SGMA

January 8, 2019

DWR Finalizes Basin Prioritizations Under SGMA
Three Basins in SLO County Affected

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has announced the final prioritization for 458 basins, identifying 56 basins that are required to create groundwater sustainability plans under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). For most basins, the results are a confirmation of prioritizations established in 2015. Fifty-nine basins remain under review with final prioritization expected in late spring.

In San Luis Obispo County, the Atascadero Area Sub-basin was reprioritized from high to very low. The San Luis Obispo Valley Basin and the Cuyama Valley Basin were reprioritized from medium to high. Other groundwater basins in the County are pending prioritization because current Basin Boundary Modification Requests are still being processed. Those groundwater basins include the Paso Robles Area Sub-basin, the Los Osos Valley Basin, and the Santa Maria Basin.

SGMA requires local agencies throughout the state to sustainably manage groundwater basins. Basins identified as high - or medium - priority are required to adopt groundwater sustainability plans beginning in 2020. DWR is required to reassess groundwater basin prioritizations any time it updates basin boundaries. This prioritization for 458 basins incorporates the basin boundary modifications finalized in 2016. Prioritization is based on factors such as population, irrigated acreage, and the number of wells in the basin. Changes in prioritization generally reflect changed conditions or latest information about existing conditions.

Twenty-one basins were changed to 'very low' because they are covered by adjudicated areas with existing governance and oversight in place. Adjudicated areas are not required to prepare groundwater sustainability plans and are instead required to submit annual reports to DWR on their groundwater management and monitoring. The Atascadero Area Sub-basin was changed to very low as a result of a prior basin boundary modification.

Draft prioritizations were announced in May 2018. These finalizations come after a 94-day public comment period and four public meetings that resulted in 500 individual comments and related datasets leading to some revisions in basin prioritization.

View Final Basin Prioritization for unmodified basins HERE.

View updated Frequently Asked Questions on basin prioritization HERE.

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