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Groundwater Management


Sustainable Groundwater Management

The Santa Clara Valley Water District has managed groundwater resources in Santa Clara County since 1929. District programs and activities protect and augment groundwater supplies to ensure long-term sustainability. The 2016 Groundwater Management Plan for the Santa Clara and Llagas Subbasins, adopted by the District Board of Directors in November 2016, describes the district's groundwater sustainability goals, and the strategies, programs, and activities that support those goals.

In 2014, Governor Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to promote the local, sustainable management of groundwater supplies. For basins designated as medium and high priority by the State, SGMA requires the identification of local groundwater agencies and the development and implementation of plans to achieve sustainability. For many decades, the District has sustainably managed the Santa Clara and Llagas Subbasins, which the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) designates as medium and high priority basins, respectively.

2016 Groundwater Management Plan (GWMP)

SGMA requires preparation of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) or Alternative for all high and medium priority basins. GSPs must be submitted by 2020 for critically overdrafted basins, and by 2022 for all others. Recognizing that groundwater is well-managed in many areas, SGMA also provides for the submittal of specified Alternatives to a GSP. Alternatives must be submitted to DWR by January 1, 2017. Emergency regulations for GSPs and Alternative Plans were adopted by the California Water Commission on May 18, 2016. Some of the requirements for GSPs are more applicable to basins working to achieve sustainability rather than those with comprehensive and sustainable programs already in place, like those in Santa Clara County.

The 2016 GWMP is developed under authority granted by the Santa Clara Valley Water District Act, and builds upon the District’s comprehensive 2012 GWMP. Groundwater sustainability goals, strategies, programs, and outcome measures are largely unchanged in the 2016 GWMP since they have been effective in maintaining sustainable groundwater conditions and prompting action when needed. The 2016 GWMP updates technical basin information and acknowledges additional authorities provided by SGMA. These authorities, which include the ability to regulate pumping or control well spacing, may be needed in the future to ensure continued sustainability. The District will begin evaluating new SGMA authorities in 2017 in coordination with interested stakeholders.

Following a public hearing and after considering public comments, the Board of Directors adopted the 2016 GWMP on Nov. 22, 2016. The 2016 GWMP meets the requirements of an Alternative to a GSP and meets the intent of SGMA. The GWMP was submitted to DWR as an Alternative to a GSP on Dec. 21, 2016. DWR will accept public comments on the GWMP for 60 days at:

Decision to Become the Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA)

SGMA lists the Santa Clara Valley Water District as the exclusive groundwater management agency within its statutory boundary, which includes all of Santa Clara County. Following public notice and a public hearing on May 24, 2016, the District Board of Directors adopted a resolution to become the GSA for the Santa Clara and Llagas Subbasins, confirming the District’s role as the local groundwater management agency.

This webpage was last updated on Dec. 22, 2016. For questions, please contact us at [email protected].