Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

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In September 2014, Governor Brown signed historic legislation requiring that California’s critical groundwater resources be sustainably managed by local agencies. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) provides a framework for the sustainable management of groundwater supplies by local agencies, with a role for state intervention when necessary to protect the resource. The SGMA requires Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) be developed for medium- and high-priority groundwater basins identified within the Department of Water Resources (DWR) Bulletin 118 report. Fresno County overlies five groundwater sub-basins; Kings, Madera, Delta-Mendota, Westside, and Pleasant Valley. With the exception of Pleasant Valley, the four other basins are currently designated by DWR as high-priority and subject to a condition of critical overdraft. The SGMA does not apply outside of mapped groundwater basins.

The SGMA defines a process and timeline for local agencies to achieve the goal of sustainable management of groundwater basins. It also provides tools and authorities to take the necessary steps to achieve that goal. For local agencies involved in implementation, the requirements are significant and can be expected to take years to accomplish.

Milestone One: Local agencies must form local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) within two years (2017).

Milestone Two: Local agencies in basins deemed high- or medium-priority must adopt groundwater sustainability plans within five to seven years, depending on whether a basin is in critical overdraft. In Fresno County, the deadline to adopt a GSP is 2020.

Milestone Three: Once a plan or plans are in place, local agencies have 20 years (2040) to fully implement the plan(s) and achieve the sustainability goal.

State Role: The State Water Resources Control Board may intervene if local agencies do not form a GSA and/or fail to adopt and implement a GSP.

Next Steps

As a first step, in March 2015, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors formed a workgroup to advise the Board of Supervisors regarding items relating to the SGMA including developing recommendations for a governance structure to form GSAs, conduct research on what other local agencies are doing to implement the SGMA, monitor legislation, rulemaking, and potential funding opportunities, and conduct regular meetings. Please see link below for information pertaining to the SGMA Working Group Meetings.

In addition, the Board of Supervisors endorsed concepts for a proposed Governance Agreement. For additional details, see Board Agenda Item, 3/10/15.

SGMA Working Group Meetings and Agendas

If you have questions about the SGMA, please email



For additional information about the SGMA, please see the following:

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