OPR Solicits Input in Effort to Improve State Groundwater Management

On January 27, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown issued the California Water Action Plan, which highlights the challenges for managing the State’s water resources and outlines strategic goals and actions to provide more reliable water supplies, restore important species and habitat, and establish a more resilient and sustainably managed water resource system for farms, ecosystems and communities. The plan specifically identified a number of actions to implement sustainable groundwater management practices. One of those actions called for legislation to provide local and regional agencies with comprehensive authority to manage groundwater. If those agencies fail to achieve sustainable management, the Plan proposes allowing the state to temporarily assume responsibility for groundwater management. The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) is now seeking input on actions that can be taken to improve groundwater management in California.

Groundwater control has generally been left to local efforts and courts; California has no comprehensive authority for monitoring or regulating groundwater. One primary objective of the Plan is to establish a legal framework through which to improve groundwater management and expand groundwater storage capacity.

OPR planned two sustainable groundwater management workshops, on March 24 and April 16, facilitated by the California Environmental Protection Agency, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the California Natural Resources Agency. The purpose of the workshops is to solicit ideas and approaches to groundwater management.

OPR now seeks input on the following questions:

  • What new or modified statutory authorities do local and regional agencies need to manage groundwater more effectively?
  • What would help local agencies overcome barriers to funding for conservation, projects, and programs?
  • What types of governance structures are most effective for managing groundwater locally, and should these models be encouraged?
  • What specific data and information do local managers need to succeed? What should be done to help them obtain the data?
  • What can be done to help local and regional agencies manage a basin or sub-basin that spans multiple jurisdictions?
  • Are there improvements to the groundwater adjudication process that would make it more useful and cost-effective for local authorities?
  • What role should groundwater management plans play, and does their content need to change?
  • What incentives could local and regional agencies be given to improve groundwater management?
  • Should local groundwater management planning be connected, through formal processes, to land use decisions, county general plans, or integrated regional water management plans? If so, what kind of formal processes?

More information can be found at:



Written comments are due to OPR by April 25, 2014.