Best Management Practices and Guidance Documents

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), Water Code Section 10729(d), directed DWR to “publish on its internet Web site best management practices for the sustainable management of groundwater,” by January 1, 2017. We developed and published 2 categories of information – Best Management Practices (BMPs) and Guidance Documents – to assist Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) with developing Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs).

BMPs and Guidance Documents are not substitutes for GSP Regulations or the statutory provisions of SGMA. With the exception of 2 specific BMPs addressed in the GSP Regulations (Section 352.2, Monitoring Protocols and Section 352.4, Data and Reporting Standards), SGMA and the GSP Regulations provide no direction or limitation with respect to what type of BMPs and Guidance Documents should be developed to assist GSAs with making sustainable groundwater management decisions. DWR may develop additional BMPs and Guidance Documents, or make revisions to the existing publications, as needed.

The Groundwater Sustainability Plan Emergency Regulations (GSP Regulations), which were adopted in May 2016, define BMPs as “the practice, or combination of practices, that are designed to achieve sustainable groundwater management and have been determined to be technologically and economically effective, practicable, and based on best available science.” 

In brief, BMPs provide:

  • Clarification
  • Guidance
  • Examples to help GSAs develop the essential elements of a GSP

We developed the BMPs based on technical information from other groundwater management efforts, existing standards, and other guidance or reference reports.

BMP 1
BMP 1 Monitoring Protocols Standards and Sites ( PDF) | (Revision Date: (Publish Date: Version: 1
BMP 2
BMP 2 Monitoring Networks and Identification of Data Gaps ( PDF) | (Publish Date:
BMP 3
BMP 3 Hydrogeologic Conceptual Model ( PDF) | (Publish Date:
BMP 4
BMP 4 Water Budget ( PDF) | (Publish Date:
BMP 5
BMP 5 Modeling ( PDF) | (Publish Date:
View BMP
BMP 6 Sustainable Management Criteria DRAFT ( PDF) | (Publish Date: Version: DRAFT
BMP Framework
BMP Framework ( PDF) | (Publish Date:

BMP Resources

Guidance Documents address topic areas unique to SGMA, for topics where no established practices in the water management industry exist, and which may not have been specifically identified in the GSP Regulations.

Stakeholder Communication and Engagement - SGMA GSP Guidance Doument
Stakeholder Communication and Engagement ( PDF) | (Publish Date: Version: Final
This guidance document provides GSAs information to aid with stakeholder communication and engagement for GSP preparation and to provide examples and existing resources related to public engagement and effective communication for SGMA implementation.
SGMA Guidance - Engagement with Tribal Governments
Engagement with Tribal Governments ( PDF) | (Publish Date: Version: Final
This guidance document conveys information, as provided by California’s Tribal governments, by which local agencies can engage Tribal governments as part of an effort to identify interested persons, and consider the interests of beneficial users of groundwater; including those users on Tribal lands not subject to SGMA.
GSP Outline
GSP Annotated Outline ( PDF) | (Revision Date: (Publish Date: Version: 1
The objective of this Guidance Document is to provide Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) and other stakeholders an example Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) Annotated Outline to aid in GSP development and standardize future reporting.
GSP Checklist
Preparation Checklist for GSP Submittal ( PDF) | (Revision Date: (Publish Date: Version: 1
The objective of this Guidance Document is to provide Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) and other interested stakeholders a checklist of Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) content requirements for the purpose of verifying a GSP is complete and is ready for submission to DWR.