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Sustainable Groundwater Management


Valley Water has managed groundwater resources in Santa Clara County since 1929, and conditions have been sustainable for many decades due to our activities that protect and augment groundwater supplies. 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 local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to develop and implement Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) or Alternatives to achieve sustainability. 

Local Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA)

SGMA lists Valley Water as the exclusive groundwater management agency within its statutory boundary, which includes all of Santa Clara County. Valley Water is the GSA for the Santa Clara and Llagas Subbasins (the primary basins in the county) and the small portions of the North San Benito Subbasin in Santa Clara County. 

Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) or Alternative

SGMA requires that GSAs prepare a GSP for all medium and high priority basins. Recognizing that groundwater is already well-managed in many areas, SGMA also allows specified Alternatives to a GSP. Alternatives had to be submitted to the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) by January 1, 2017. 

Valley Water’s 2016 Groundwater Management Plan for the Santa Clara and Llagas Subbasins (GWMP) was submitted to DWR as an Alternative on Dec. 21, 2016. On July 17, 2019, DWR approved the Alternative for both basins, determining it satisfies the objectives of SGMA.

SGMA requires GSAs to submit periodic evaluations of approved Alternatives at least once every five years, with the first due by January 1, 2022. To meet this requirement, Valley Water prepared the 2021 GWMP, which was adopted by Valley Water’s Board of Directors on November 19, 2021 after a public hearing.

The 2021 GWMP was submitted to DWR as the periodic evaluation for the approved Alternative on December 17, 2021. Alterative Periodic Evaluations are open to public comment for 75 days until March 22, 2022.

Annual Reporting to DWR for the Santa Clara and Llagas Subbasins

As required by SGMA, annual reports must be submitted to DWR by April 1 of each year for the previous water year (October 1 to September 30).

Additional information about the Alternative and annual reporting for WY 2017 to 2021 is available on the DWR SGMA Alternative Portal for Santa Clara Valley Water District.

North San Benito Subbasin GSP

The North San Benito Subbasin is largely located within San Benito County, with small portions within Santa Clara County. Both San Benito County Water District (SBCWD) and Valley Water are GSAs for the North San Benito Subbasin. SBCWD was lead on GSP development and Valley Water provided support and served on the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).

The North San Benito GSP was adopted by the SBCWD Board of Directors on November 17, 2021 and by the Valley Water Board of Directors on December 14, 2021. The final GSP is available on the SBCWD website at and was submitted to DWR for review and approval before the statutory deadline of January 31, 2022.

Interested Parties

If you would like to receive information on groundwater management activities in the Santa Clara and Llagas Subbasins, including SGMA compliance, please email us at [email protected].

If you would like to receive notifications about the GSP for the North San Benito Subbasin (including the Santa Clara County portion), please contact Barbara Mauro, SBCWD Board Clerk: [email protected].

This webpage was last updated on January 25, 2022. For questions, please contact us at [email protected].