Department of Water Resources Home

Groundwater Management

Information About Groundwater Management in California

  • Management Methods
      Methods to Manage Groundwater in California

      There are three basic methods available for managing groundwater resources in California: (1) management by local agencies under authority granted in the California Water Code or other applicable State statutes, (2) local government groundwater ordinances or joint powers agreements, and (3) court adjudications. Each method is discussed briefly below. No law requires that any of these forms of management be applied in a basin. Management is often instituted after local agencies or landowners recognize a specific groundwater problem. The level of groundwater management in any basin or subbasin is often dependent on water availability and demand.

      Local Management through Authority Granted to Local Water Agencies

      Local Agencies utilize existing government bodies and authority to proactively monitor and manage groundwater resource issues. The State of California encourages coordinated, basin wide, local agency management of groundwater resource per section 10755.2 of the California Water Code.

        Local Agencies Types
        Local Government Groundwater Ordinances or Joint Powers Agreements

      Local Groundwater Ordinances

      Local Ordinances utilize the land use planning and police powers of locally elected county boards to address groundwater management to varying degrees and in different forms and contexts.

         Local Groundwater Ordinances

      Court Adjudications

      Adjudicated Basins are managed by court decree, typically where overlying stakeholders cannot come to agreement over hydrogeologic operations or resources.

         Court Adjudications

  • DWR's Role
      DWR's Role in California's Groundwater Management

      DWR works in cooperation with local agencies and stakeholders to increase water supply reliability through the planned, coordinated use of water resources.

      DWR groundwater management support activities include:

         California's Groundwater - Bulletin 118

         California Water Plan

         Water Use Efficiency

         Conjunctive Water Management

         Drought Assistance

         Integrated Water Resources Information System (IWRIS)

      DWR does not:

         Regulate groundwater quality

         Regulate groundwater use

      For more information about DWR groundwater management support activities enter the DWR's Role in California's Groundwater Management website.

  • Planning and Implementation
      Groundwater Management Planning and Implementation

      In 1992, the State Legislature provided an opportunity for more formal groundwater management with the passage of AB 3030 (Water Code § 10750 et seq.). Plans prepared under AB 3030 certainly brought unprecedented numbers of water agencies into the groundwater management arena, and counties are now heavily involved in groundwater management, primarily through ordinances. However, many plans prepared under AB 3030 have had little or no implementation, and many counties focus primarily on limiting exports rather than on a comprehensive management program. As a result, the California Budget Act of 1999 (Stats. 1999, ch. 50), which authorized this update to Bulletin 118, directed the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to complete several tasks, including developing criteria for evaluating groundwater management plans and developing a model groundwater management ordinance.

      Assembly Bill 3030 (AB 3030)
      AB 3030, the Groundwater Management Act, provides a systematic procedure for an existing local agency to develop a groundwater management plan. For more information go to the AB 3030 website.

      Senate Bill 1938 (SB 1938)
      SB 1938, signed into law in 2002, requires any public agency seeking State funds administered through DWR for the construction of groundwater projects or groundwater quality projects to prepare and implement a groundwater management plan with certain specified components. For more information go to the SB 1938 website.

      Status of Groundwater Management in California
      Information on several specific Groundwater Management Plans (GWMPs) can be found at the following websites:
        Integrated Water Resources Information System (IWRIS)
         Status of Groundwater Management in California

      Groundwater Related Financial Assistance Programs
      DWR provides grant funds and low-interest loans for local groundwater management and monitoring programs.
         Groundwater Related Financial Assistance Programs