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Departments and Divisions Public Works Groundwater
Groundwater

Staff had previously updated the Public Works Commission on February 9, March 9, and May 11, 2017 regarding the background on the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), progress to date, and the City’s on-going efforts to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Santa Monica, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, Culver City, and LA County to form the Santa Monica Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA). Additionally, this item was presented and discussed at the April 27, 2017 Public Works Liaison and City Council meeting on May 16, 2017 as an informational item.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act empowers local agencies to adopt groundwater management plans tailored to the resources and needs of their communities. Prudent groundwater management will provide protection against drought and climate change and contribute to more robust and reliable water supplies, regardless of weather patterns. Currently, the City of Beverly Hills does not pump groundwater out of the Santa Monica Basin; however, the City is contemplating pumping out of the adjacent unadjudicated Central Basin. By being an active stakeholder in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to form the Santa Monica Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA), the City can protect its interests in the Santa Monica Basin in the future should it decide to extract additional groundwater supplies from the Santa Monica Basin as an additional source of supply. State legislation requires a formal public hearing to receive any public comment on the formation of a GSA via MOU approval.

On September 16, 2014, Governor Brown signed a package of three bills to advance sustainable groundwater management in California. The legislation, known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), provides a framework for improved management of groundwater by local authorities. The bills are SB 1168 (Pavley), SB 1319 (Pavley), and AB 1739 (Dickinson), respectively.  

The legislation provides local agencies with the tools to manage groundwater basins in a sustainable manner over the long term and enables limited state intervention when necessary to protect groundwater resources. SGMA establishes a definition of sustainable groundwater management, requires that local agencies develop groundwater management plans and implement strategies to sustainably manage groundwater resources, prioritizes basins with the greatest need (ranked as high and medium priority) and sets a timeline for implementation as follows: 

  • June 30, 2017: Local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies must be formed
  • January 31, 2020: Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP) must be completed for basins in a critical condition of overdraft
  • January 31, 2022: GSPs must be completed in all other high and medium priority basins not currently in overdraft, including the Santa Monica Groundwater Basin
  • Twenty years after adoption of the GSP (2040 and 2042): All high and medium priority groundwater basins must achieve sustainability 

The Santa Monica basin is categorized as a medium-priority basin. Basin prioritization is a statewide ranking of groundwater basin importance that incorporates a scoring criteria for each basin utilizing eight specific criteria: Overlying Population, Projected Growth of Overlying Population, Public Supply Wells, Total Number of Wells, Irrigated Acreage Overlying the Basin, Reliance on Groundwater as the Primary Source of Water, Impacts on the Groundwater, and Other Information Deemed Relevant by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).