Groundwater Sustainability Plans
The 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires local public agencies and Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) in high- and medium-priority basins to develop and implement Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) or Alternatives to GSPs. GSPs are detailed road maps for how groundwater basins will reach long term sustainability.
Although local public agencies in basins designated as low and very-low priority are not subject to SGMA, we encourage them to form GSAs and develop GSPs, update existing groundwater management plans, or coordinate with others to develop a new groundwater management plan in accordance with Water Code Section 10750 et seq. More information can be found on the Non-SGMA Groundwater Information page.
Prior to initiating the development of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP), a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) shall make available to the public and the Department a written description of the manner in which interested parties may participate in the development and implementation of the GSP. The Department's GSP Emergency Regulations require an initial notification per §353.6(a):
"Each Agency (GSA) shall notify the Department, in writing, prior to initiating development of a Plan (GSP). The notification shall provide general information about the GSA’s process for developing the GSP, including the manner in which interested parties may contact the GSA and participate in the development and implementation of the GSP. The GSA shall make the information publicly available by posting relevant information on the GSA’s website."
In accordance with Water Code §10727.8, GSAs are required to provide the GSP initial notification written statement to the legislative body of any city, county, or city and county, located within the geographic area to be covered by the GSP to coordinate land use and water management planning. In addition, if the geographic area to be covered by the GSP includes a public water system regulated by the Public Utilities Commission, the GSA shall provide the written statement to the commission.
Related to the GSP initial notification is a “maintenance of interested persons list” which is described in Water Code §10723.4. A GSA is required to establish a list of persons interested in receiving notices – any person may request, in writing, to be placed on the list of interested persons. Also, GSAs are required to encourage the active involvement of diverse social, cultural, and economic elements of the population within the groundwater basin prior to and during the development and implementation of the GSP.
Beginning January 19, 2018, GSAs are required to submit all applicable GSP notification information to DWR using the SGMA Portal – GSP Initial Notification System.
|GSP Initial Notification
| GSP Initial Notification
If GSAs have questions about initial notifications, please contact the Regional Coordinators in DWR's four Regional Offices or DWR Headquaters in Sacramento:
SGMA established a process for local agencies to develop an Alternative in lieu of a GSP (Water Code §10733.6) for evaluation by DWR. An Alternative is required to be submitted to DWR for review no later than January 1, 2017, and every 5 years thereafter. Additional requirements and evaluation criteria are provided in the GSP Regulations (CCR §358 et seq.).
Submission and Public Comments on Alternatives
DWR has developed an online Alternative Reporting System that allows local agencies to submit Alternatives and the public to review and comment on the Alternatives. Submitted Alternatives and public comments can also be viewed on the Alternative Reporting System.
Submission of Annual Reports
Local agencies who have submitted an Alternative are required to provide an Annual Report to demonstrate progress toward implementation of the Alternative or maintenance of groundwater conditions described in the Alternative. The Annual report, submitted to the Department, is required to address the elements described in the GSP Regulations (CCR §356 et seq.) Article 7. Annual reporting is due to the Department by April 1 of each year for the preceding water year (October 1 through September 30). Annual reports will be submitted online using the SGMA Portal Alternative Reporting System. The submission will include the Annual Report and an alternative annual report element guide. All information submitted to the SGMA Portal Alternative Reporting System will be publicly available.
Alternative Submittal Resources
- Alternative Elements Guide (Optional)
- Environmental Information Form (Optional)
- Presentation from Alternative Submittal Webinar Recording (December 2 2016)
- Alternative Reporting System Webinar Recording (December 2 2016)
- Alternative Reporting System Live Demo Recording (December 2 2016)
- Alternative Annual Reporting Elements Guide
Under Water Code Section 10733.2, DWR is required to draft and adopt emergency regulations for the evaluation of GSPs and Alternatives, the implementation of GSPs and Alternatives, and coordination agreements.
The GSP regulations were developed following a comprehensive, multi-phased public outreach and engagment process. Throughout 2015 and into 2016, DWR met regularly with numerous SGMA advisory groups and conducted public meetings and webinars to gather perspectives from other statewide stakeholders, partners, and local agencies. The input received was considered in the Draft GSP Emergency Regulations.
On May 18, 2016, the proposed GSP Emergency Regulations were presented to the California Water Commission for consideration of approval. The California Water Commission unanimously approved the proposed regulations, as written, and we submitted the Final GSP Emergency Regulations and the Notice of Proposed Emergency Rulemaking to the Office of Administrative Law .
GSP Regulation Documents
- GSP Emergency Regulations
- GSP Emergency Regulations Guide
- Finding of Emergency
- Notice of Proposed Emergency Regulatory Action
Approach for Developing GSP Emergency Regulations
There are many complex issues associated with managing a basin to comply with the requirements and legislative intent of SGMA. As such, DWR divided the GSP issues into 10 separate, though related, themes and prepared topic papers for the purpose of having meaningful and focused discussions with advisory groups, stakeholders, State agency partners, and the public. The 10 topic papers that DWR used to solicit input during its GSP outreach efforts are included below.
- Topic 1 - Pre-SGMA Conditions and Undesirable Results
- Topic 2 - Measureable Objectives and Interim Milestones
- Topic 3 - Land Use and County Involvement
- Topic 4 - Alternative GSP Submittals (Revised)
- Topic 5 - Boundaries – Overlapping and Unmonitored Areas
- Topic 6 - Intra-Basin Coordination Agreements
- Topic 7 - Water Budgets and Coordination
- Topic 8 - State Agency Coordination
- Topic 9 - Data Collection, Management, and Reporting
Outreach related to the 10 GSP topic papers were conducted in three batches between June 2015 and September 2015. DWR also held a public informational session and webcast for each batch of topics in July, August, and September 2015.
Local agencies, interested parties, and the general public were provided the opportunity to comment on the Draft GSP Emergency Regulations between February 18, 2016, and April 1, 2016. In addition to many advisory group meetings and stakeholder engagements, DWR held three required public meetings and a webinar in March 2016. In accordance with Water Code Section 10733.2(e), the Draft GSP Emergency Regulations were posted on this website at least 30 days before the required public meetings. Informational items related to the Draft GSP Emergency Regulations are provided below.
- Draft GSP Emergency Regulations (February 18, 2016)
- GSP Emergency Regulations Public Meetings and Public Comment Process (Updated March 10, 2016)
- Draft GSP Emergency Regulations Guide (Updated March 15, 2016)
- Draft GSP Emergency Regulations Webinar (Updated March 24, 2016)
- California Water Commission Meeting
- February 17, 2016 - Draft GSP Emergency Regulations Presentation and Webcast
- March 16, 2016 - Draft GSP Emergency Regulations Presentation and Webcast
- April 20, 2016 – Draft GSP Emergency Regulations Presentation and Webcast