Legal Alerts Sep 04, 2015

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Amended

SB 13 Provides Clarifications and Revisions to SGMA

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Amended

Yesterday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 13, which amends the groundbreaking Sustainable Groundwater Management Act enacted last year. The amendment streamlines certain SGMA procedures, clarifies ambiguities in SGMA’s language, and revises who can participate as a Groundwater Sustainability Agency, and how a GSA can be formed.

Of note, under SB 13:

  • Water corporations and mutual water companies can now participate in a GSA through a memorandum of agreement or other form of legal contract.
  • A local agency will continue to become the official GSA for a particular basin 90 days after the posting of the local agency’s notice to be the GSA on the Department of Water Resources website, if no other local agency files a competing notice. However, if a competing notice is filed within the 90-day window, neither GSA notice will be effective until one is withdrawn or modified to eliminate any overlap in geographical boundaries between the proposed GSA’s. New GSA notices will need to be filed if there is a substantial change from the original notices submitted to DWR.
  • The new law clarifies that a local agency cannot impose fees or regulatory requirements on activities outside the boundaries of that local agency.
  • Basins that are not designated as critically overdrafted and are elevated from low- or very low-priority basins to medium- or high-priority basins prior to Jan. 31, 2017, will now have until Jan. 31, 2022 to be managed by a GSP; previously, such agencies were given only 2 years after re-prioritization to form a GSA and 5 years to adopt a GSP.
  • Other than the basin boundary and GSP regulations, any guideline, criterion, bulletin, or technical or procedural analysis or guidance prepared by the DWR as required by SGMA is now exempt from the Administrative Procedure Act.


If you have any questions about this law or how it might impact your agency, please contact the attorney authors of this legal alert listed to the right in the firm’s Environmental Law & Natural Resources practice group, or your BB&K attorney.

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