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Groundwater Sustainability Agencies

New!Local agencies are required to submit GSA formation notifications to DWR using the SGMA Portal – GSA Formation Notification System.
New!Recording of GSA Formation and DWR Notification Using the SGMA Portal webinar (January 26, 2017)
New!Presentation slides from GSA Formation and DWR Notification Using the SGMA Portal webinar (January 26, 2017)

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) established a new structure for managing California’s groundwater resources at a local level by local agencies. SGMA requires, by June 30, 2017, the formation of locally-controlled groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) in the State’s high- and medium-priority groundwater basins and subbasins (basins). A GSA is responsible for developing and implementing a groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) to meet the sustainability goal of the basin to ensure that it is operated within its sustainable yield, without causing undesirable results. The GSP Emergency Regulations for evaluating GSPs, the implementation of GSPs, and coordination agreements were adopted by DWR and approved by the California Water Commission on May 18, 2016.

Where Do I Submit My GSA Information?

Beginning February 21, 2017, local agencies forming GSAs are required to submit all applicable information to DWR using the SGMA Portal – GSA Formation Notification System. The SGMA Portal can be accessed using the following URL:

The SGMA Portal intended for use by local agencies forming GSAs in accordance with Water Code §10723 et seq. and for the public to readily view that information. If you have questions about GSA formation, or are unable to submit a notice using the SGMA Portal, please contact one of the DWR staff listed below, or use the Communicator function available within the SGMA Portal.

DWR’s Role in GSA Formation
  • DWR shall post all complete GSA formation notices received on its website within 15 days of receipt. (Water Code §10723.8(b))
  •  A complete GSA formation notice includes all of the following (Water Code §10723.8(a)):
    • Information that clearly shows the GSA formation notice was submitted to DWR within 30 days of the decision to become or form a GSA.
    • The service area boundaries, the boundaries of the basin or portion of the basin the agency intends to manage, and identification of any other agencies managing or proposing to manage groundwater within the basin.
    • A copy of the resolution or legal agreement forming the new agency.
    • A copy of any new bylaws, ordinances, or new authorities adopted by the local agency.
    • A list of interested parties developed pursuant to Water Code §10723.2 and an explanation of how their interests will be considered in the development and operation of the GSA and the development and implementation of the agency’s sustainability plan.
  • DWR will not post incomplete GSA formation notices.
  • If two or more local agencies separately decide to become GSAs in all or a portion of the same area of a basin and create overlap (within 90-days of the initial posted notice), then no exclusive GSA will be identified by DWR until the overlap is resolved. (Water Code §10723.8(c) and (d))
  • Only exclusive GSAs can coordinate to develop a GSP for a basin and submit that GSP to DWR for review.
  • DWR has a Facilitation Support Services program that helps local agencies work through challenging institutional and technical situations.
  • If you have questions about a specific entity’s GSA eligibility please contact the State Water Resources Control Board at

GSA Resources:

Local Agency’s Role in GSA Formation

Local agencies are expected to collaborate and coordinate their GSA formations on a basin-wide scale to sustainably manage groundwater at a local level. A local agency that decides to become a GSA will be required to perform the duties, and exercise the necessary powers, of a GSA when developing, implementing, and enforcing a basin's groundwater sustainability program.

  • Before deciding to become a GSA, and after publication of notice pursuant to Section 6066 of the Government Code, the local agency or agencies shall hold a public hearing in the county or counties overlying the basin. (Water Code §10723(b))
  • The decision of a local agency or combination of agencies to become a GSA shall take effect as provided in §10723.8. (Water Code §10723(d))
  • One local agency can decide to become a GSA or a combination of local agencies can decide to form a GSA by using a joint powers agreement, a memorandum of agreement, or other legal agreement. (Water Code §10723.6)
  • Within 30 days of deciding to become or form a GSA, the local agency or combination of local agencies shall inform DWR of its decision and its intent to undertake sustainable groundwater management. (Water Code §10723.8(a))
  • The GSA formation notice shall include all the information in Water Code §10723.8(a), as applicable.
  • The decision to become an exclusive GSA shall take effect pursuant to Water Code §10723.8(c) and (d) – an exclusive GSA will not be identified by DWR until any GSA overlap is resolved.
  • Only exclusive GSAs can coordinate to develop a GSP for a basin and submit that GSP to DWR for review.
  • A GSA may withdraw from managing a basin by notifying DWR in writing of its intent to withdraw. (Water Code §10723.8(e))
  • A list of local agencies and GSAs that have withdrawn their posted notices is located here.
County’s Role in GSA Formation

The legislative intent of SGMA is to recognize and preserve the authority of cities and counties to manage groundwater pursuant to their existing powers. As such, local governments play an important land use and water management role in California and should be involved in GSA formation and GSP implementation.

  • In the event that there is an area within a high- or medium-priority basin that is not within the management area of a GSA, the county within which that unmanaged area lies will be presumed to be the GSA for that area. (Water Code § 10724(a))
  • A county shall provide notification to DWR of its intent to manage the unmanaged area pursuant to Water Code §10723.8 unless the county notifies DWR in writing that it will not be the GSA for the area. (Water Code § 10724(b))
  • A list of counties that have decided not to be the GSA for unmanaged areas in a basin is located here.
State Intervention

The State Water Resources Control Board's (SWRCB) Groundwater Management Program, after notice and a public hearing, may designate a basin as a probationary basin if it finds that after June 30, 2017, none of the following has occurred (Water Code § 10735.2(a)):

  • A local agency has decided to become a GSA that intends to develop a GSP for the entire basin.
  • A collection of local agencies has formed a GSA or prepared agreements to develop one or more GSPs that will collectively serve as a GSP for the entire basin.
  • A local agency has submitted an alternative that has been approved or is pending approval pursuant to Section 10733.6.

If unmanaged areas of a basin exist on July 1, 2017, those areas shall be subject to groundwater extraction reporting in accordance with Part 5.2 (commencing with §5200) of Division 2 of the Water Code and could be subject to fees listed in §1529.5. If you have questions about a specific entity’s GSA eligibility please contact SWRCB at

More GSA Information

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For additional information regarding GSAs and DWR's role in their formation, please contact Mark Nordberg at or 916-651-9673.