New Tool for Water Managers Untangles CA’s Groundwater Management Act

by | Sep 19, 2018

Sustainably managing groundwater is one of the most important and complex challenges that California will face in coming decades, water experts in the state believe. Now, water managers have a new tool to help them understand California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA): the Groundwater Exchange, a free, collaborative online platform that offers tools and resources to support successful implementation of SGMA.

Passage of SGMA in 2014 led to the creation of more than 250 local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) tasked with developing and implementing plans to bring groundwater conditions into balance by as early as 2040. The California Department of Water Resources has provided SGMA materials to the agencies, but many agencies have limited financial, technical and personnel resources. Moreover, additional SGMA resources have been developed separately, by nonprofits and academic experts.

The Groundwater Exchange was developed by Maven’s Notebook in partnership with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Stanford’s Program on Water in the West (WitW) to provide a central hub of science-based information where water managers, users and community members can learn more about the law and become engaged in issues related to water management.

“In addition to consolidating resources, water managers and community members involved in developing the site wanted to be able to share their experience and learning with one another. The Groundwater Exchange has an online forum to meet that need – here users can ask questions, share materials and engage with members of the water community,” says Tara Moran, the WitW Sustainable Groundwater Program lead.

Key features of the Exchange include:

  • A forum to post questions, start discussions and share materials;
  • An introduction to SGMA, including frequently asked questions, publications on public engagement in English and Spanish, and links to organizations that help give community members a voice in water policy and decisions;
  • Searchable maps and a basin watch list that alerts users when new information about their basin becomes available;
  • A calendar and news section consolidating the latest content related to SGMA;
  • Weekly email updates featuring new content on the Groundwater Exchange and upcoming events.

The Groundwater Exchange was created with funding from the Water Foundation and the California Department of Water Resources. General Mills also helped fund the exchange. As Jeff Hanratty, applied sustainability manager at the company, says, “California’s agriculture industry is vital to the production of our ingredients, and we are committed to improving water sustainability in the state.”

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