SOURCE: Association of California Water Agencies

Association of California Water Agencies

April 04, 2011 13:00 ET

ACWA Unveils Policy Framework on Groundwater Management

Local Agencies Seen as Best Suited to Meet Sustainability Objectives

SACRAMENTO, CA--(Marketwire - April 4, 2011) - Making the water community's strongest statement to date in support of sustainable groundwater management, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) today unveiled a new policy framework that calls on local water agencies throughout the state to implement groundwater management plans and strategies to meet sustainability objectives.

The document, "Sustainability from the Ground Up: A Framework for Groundwater Management in California," highlights examples of successful local groundwater management programs, identifies impediments to success at the local level, and recommends actions and policies to help ensure the sustainability of groundwater resources.

The framework states the water community's strong support for sustainable groundwater management practices at a time when California is relying more than ever on the resource in light of constraints on surface water deliveries.

"We know that ensuring sustainable management of our groundwater basins is a critical challenge," ACWA Executive Director Timothy Quinn said. "ACWA and its members believe that challenge can only be met by local and regional agencies. We developed this framework to elevate the importance of that task and lay out proactive steps to achieve sustainable outcomes as part of a comprehensive statewide solution. That solution must include investments in Delta conveyance, additional surface and groundwater storage and aggressive investments in local resources, including water use efficiency."

The framework was released at a briefing in Sacramento. A press call is set for 11:45 a.m. today to brief reporters on the document. (Call 1-888-550-5602. Code: 2469 0017.)

Developed over 18 months by a task force of local groundwater managers from every region of the state, the framework was approved unanimously by ACWA's statewide Board of Directors. It defines sustainability as actively managing groundwater to meet environmental and economic objectives while protecting the long-term health of groundwater basins.

The framework affirms that locally controlled groundwater management is effective because it is best able to respond to the unique circumstances of each groundwater basin. The array of challenges on the horizon will demand even more of local agencies and require a greater commitment to providing sustainable management, the framework says.

"While we believe local agencies are best suited for the job of providing sustainable management, there is an appropriate role for the state," Quinn said. "We recommend that the state encourage and facilitate development of locally managed programs and work collaboratively with local agencies to address impediments wherever possible.

"There is also a huge need for California to invest in surface storage and conveyance improvements to ensure the success of conjunctive use programs, which are critical to addressing overdraft and other challenges to sustainable groundwater management."

Summary of Framework Recommendations

1) Local water agencies throughout California should implement groundwater management plans to meet sustainability objectives. Local groundwater management plans should be developed in an open and transparent manner with public involvement. Local agencies should make information about their plans and groundwater conditions readily available to DWR and the public.

2) The state should facilitate the development of locally managed sustainability-based groundwater management plans. The state should provide incentives for the development of local groundwater management plans. DWR should provide easier online access to necessary data; permits should be obtainable faster; groundwater remediation projects and the storage of recycled water should be easier to implement; infrastructure projects should be subject to a 55% vote requirement; and agencies that do not implement plans should be denied public funds.

3) The state should remove impediments to sustainable groundwater management wherever possible. Recharge of surface water should be declared a reasonable use of water; the SWRCB should not interfere in local groundwater management plans; local agencies should be protected from liability in groundwater remediation projects; County Plans should promote local groundwater management plans, including protecting lands needed for replenishment and extraction facilities.

4) Sustainable groundwater management must be part of a comprehensive plan to achieve the coequal goals of improved statewide water supply reliability and environmental restoration. The comprehensive statewide plan must include Delta conveyance solutions, additional surface and groundwater storage, and aggressive investments in local resources, including greater water use efficiency.

For a list of local contacts prepared to comment on the framework, please visit www.acwa.com.

NOTE: Press call on framework set for 11:45 a.m. today. Call 1-888-550-5602. Code: 2469 0017

ACWA is a statewide association of public agencies whose 430 members are responsible for about 90% of the water delivered in California. For more information, visit www.acwa.com.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Jennifer Persike
    ACWA Director of Strategic Coordination and Public Affairs
    916/441-4545
    916/296-3981 (cell)