Legal Alerts Nov 12, 2014

New Groundwater Legislation Update: Comments Recommended Regarding Groundwater Basin Prioritization

Public Agencies Wishing to Dispute Basin Prioritization or Boundaries Should Submit Comments As Soon As Possible

New Groundwater Legislation Update: Comments Recommended Regarding Groundwater Basin Prioritization

Under the new groundwater legislation, the California Department of Water Resources must establish the initial priority for each groundwater basin in the state no later than Jan. 31. Those basins that are ultimately designated as high or medium priority will be subject to groundwater sustainability plans to be adopted no later than Jan. 31, 2020, in some cases, or Jan. 31, 2022 in others.

Preliminary priorities for each groundwater basin, including many sub-basins, have been compiled as part of DWR’s California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring (CASGEM) program. Other information about groundwater basins can be found in DWR’s Bulletin 118 (“California’s Groundwater”).

There is an expectation that most, if not all, of these preliminary priorities will be adopted officially by DWR early next year, barring information coming to light that challenges those preliminary priorities.

If public agencies or others wish to dispute the preliminary high, medium, low or very low priority status of groundwater basins upon which they rely, comment letters should be submitted to DWR as soon as possible. In setting those priorities, DWR will examine not only water levels, water quality, extraction patterns, current demand and other technical information, but also the population overlying the basin, projected growth, irrigated acreage and other information.

Agencies may also wish to submit comments to DWR regarding groundwater basin boundaries, particularly if there is scientific dispute about the precise location of such boundaries. Under the new legislation, basin boundaries will be set as identified in DWR Bulletin 118 unless a local agency requests that DWR revise boundaries and submits technical and other information supporting a boundary adjustment.

Best Best & Krieger attorneys are here to assist with the preparation of comment letters regarding groundwater basin prioritization and boundaries. For further information, please contact the attorney authors of this legal alert listed at right in the Environmental Law and Natural Resources practice group or your BB&K attorney.

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Disclaimer: BB&K legal alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this communiqué.

Best Best & Krieger’s Water Rights practice is a nationally recognized force in water law since James Krieger’s significant role in implementing the California State Water Project in the 1960s. As general counsel to water providers, BB&K represents dozens of public agencies that serve water to more than 21 million people, in addition to countless developer, agricultural and manufacturing clients. We regularly advise public agency and private clients on all aspects regarding allocation of scarce water supplies.

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