Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP)

Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) are detailed road maps for how groundwater basins will reach long term sustainability. The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted an initial prioritization of all 515 groundwater basins in California. Local public agencies and GSAs in the high- and medium-priority basins are required by SGMA to develop and implement Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) or Alternatives to GSPs, if approved by DWR.

Although not subject to SGMA, DWR encourages local public agencies in basins designated as low and very-low priority to form GSAs and develop GSPs, update existing groundwater management plans, or coordinate with others to develop a new groundwater management plan in accordance with Water Code Section 10750 et seq.

In May 2018, the Bedford Coldwater Groundwater Subbasin (Subbasin) was reassigned to a priority ranking of ‘very low’ due to the relatively low pumping volume occurring in the Subbasin. This priority ranking removes the Subbasin from SGMA requirements. However, the BCGSA has elected to continue the GSP development process in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the groundwater basin and ensure it is sustainably managed into the future.

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

On September 16, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a three-bill legislative package (AB 1739, SB 1168, and SB 1319) collectively known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). For the first time in its history, California has a framework for sustainable, groundwater management.

In his signing statement, the governor emphasized that “groundwater management in California is best accomplished locally.” SGMA empowers local agencies to form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to manage basins sustainably and requires those GSAs to adopt Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) for medium- and high-priority groundwater basins in California. GSPs for critically over-drafted basins are due by January 31, 2020. GSPs for other high- and medium-priority basins are due by January 31, 2022. All high- and medium-priority basins should reach sustainability within 20 years of implementing their GSPs. For critically over-drafted basins, that will be 2040. For the remaining high and medium priority basins, the deadline is 2042.

Steps to Sustainability

DWR adopts regulations for evaluating GSPs
June 1, 2016

GSAs formed
June 30, 2017

High and medium priority basins in critical overdraft managed by GSPs
January 31, 2020

All high and medium priority basins managed by GSPs
January 31, 2022

All high and medium priority basins achieve groundwater sustainability (20 years after the plan is adopted)
January 31, 2040/2042

Executive Order N-7-22 Well Drilling Application Approval Procedure

In response to severe drought conditions across the state of California, Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-7-22 (Executive Order) into effect on March 28, 2022. This Executive Order, which shall remain in effect until it is lifted, requires additional considerations before the approval and issuance of a well drilling permit, including the following:

Consultation with the GSA
The GSA must provide written verification that the proposed well is consistent with the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) and will not decrease the likelihood of achieving the sustainability goals outlined in the GSP.

Permit Evaluation
The proposed well is not likely to interfere with the production and functioning of existing nearby wells and is not likely to cause subsidence that would adversely affect nearby infrastructure.

Additional information about the Executive Order may be found in the following FAQ provided by DWR below:

To begin the well drilling permitting process in the Bedford-Coldwater Subbasin, the applicant must first fill out and submit a Well Information Form. The applicant will then be notified if the proposed well is applicable to the Executive Order and, if applicable, undergo additional evaluation upon receipt of payment to the BCGSA. Additional resources regarding the BCGSA’s well drilling application approval procedure may be found below: