In September, 2014 the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was enacted to introduce state regulation of groundwater to California. One of the requirements of SGMA was to establish Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to achieve sustainability in local groundwater subbasins. Many of the water users within SSJID became concerned about what this might lead to.
In order to comply with the new regulation, SSJID joined with the cities of Escalon and Ripon to form the South San Joaquin Groundwater Sustainability Agency. We are one of 16 GSAs within the Eastern San Joaquin Groundwater Subbasin which encompasses approximately 770,000 acres within portions of Calaveras, Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties. Together, all 16 GSAs have adopted a single Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) for the entire subbasin ahead of the January 31, 2020 deadline.
The new GSP is a project-driven plan that reaches the subbasin’s sustainability goal by recharging groundwater with 78,000 acre-feet of surface water per year instead of reducing groundwater pumping by a like amount. There are multiple sources of surface water to develop groundwater recharge projects including the Stanislaus, Calaveras, and Mokelumne Rivers. We call this approach “in-lieu recharge” which is short for using surface water in-lieu of (instead of) groundwater.
SSJID maintains a strong financial position and has long fought to defend our pre-1914 water rights on the Stanislaus River. The best local defense against SGMA is to continue to serve the area’s agricultural and urban customers with Stanislaus River water. SSJID and its partners in Escalon and Ripon are actively implementing and administering the GSP using current revenue sources.