The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is an unfunded state mandate that was passed in 2014. It requires water agencies to bring groundwater basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge within 20 years. If requirements are not met, landowners will be faced with severe consequences. That is why the Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency is proactively developing solutions to prioritize local interests and keep expenses for landowners to a minimum.

The Greater Kaweah GSA is seeking landowner approval to raise a $10 per acre assessment through a Proposition 218 election. An assessment is needed to keep implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) local by funding the administration and implementation of the Greater Kaweah GSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). Implementing the GSP is required by SGMA legislation, and necessary to prevent the State from intervening at a much higher cost to landowners.

Compliance with SGMA is not optional and is best accomplished locally. Securing funds to retain local control ensures stakeholder’s have input and provides for solutions that benefit our region. The Greater Kaweah GSA Board is dedicated to navigating SGMA together as a local community.

To identify if your property lies within the Greater Kaweah GSA, use the CA Department of Water Resources GSA Map Viewer Tool.

💧 The Cost of Groundwater Management

Implementing SGMA

An unfunded California law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires better management and balance of groundwater supplies in a groundwater subbasin through the creation of local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) with extensive powers to manage groundwater.

The Greater Kaweah GSA is the voice for our landowners, complying with SGMA and interacting with State agencies such as the Department of Water Resources and State Water Resources Control Board.

An assessment rate structure is necessary to cover the costs to follow the new State law within its stipulated deadlines.  Based on the Greater Kaweah GSA’s needs, the Board of Directors is proposing a Proposition 218 Election for landowner approval to levy an assessment. The assessment would generate sufficient revenue to fund annual operational costs and expenses associated with the implementation of the Greater Kaweah GSA Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP).

Greater Kaweah’s GSP focuses on assessing, monitoring, and mitigating undesirable results from groundwater use. Several of these undesirable results, for example lowering groundwater levels and groundwater storage reduction, are significant issues and will need to be addressed and corrected.

SGMA Compliance

Compliance with SGMA is not optional and is best accomplished locally. Implementing SGMA at the local level allows stakeholder input and provides for solutions that carry benefits to our region. The Greater Kaweah GSA Board is dedicated to navigating SGMA together as a local community of stakeholders.

SGMA stipulates that local GSA’s must develop and implement a Groundwater Sustainability Plan and achieve groundwater sustainability within 20 years; failure to do so will trigger State Intervention. Funding the implementation of the Greater Kaweah GSA Groundwater Sustainability Plan through the proposed assessment is crucial to achieving compliance at the local level.

The Kaweah Subbasin is currently estimated to have an annual overdraft of approximately 78,000 acre-feet per year, and the Greater Kaweah GSA portion of this total is estimated at approximately 34,600 acre-feet per year.  As the Greater Kaweah GSA implements its GSP, it plans to gradually reduce the overdraft to become sustainable by 2040.

Failure Comes at a Great Cost

State Intervention

The $10 per acre assessment will keep SGMA implementation at the local level. Without funding, SGMA compliance will still happen but at a much higher cost.

Failing to fund efforts of the local GSA implementing SGMA will put the Kaweah Subbasin at risk of probation and State Intervention. Basins deemed “probationary” are those that fail to meet State-mandated deadlines and thus are not in compliance with SGMA. Follow the link below for an overview of State Intervention triggers:

State Intervention Triggers

In the case of probation and State Intervention, the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) would impose a fee structure on groundwater pumpers many times more costly than what is proposed by the Greater Kaweah GSA, and is likely to impose unfavorable restrictions without providing local benefits.

“Basins run the risk of state intervention if they miss the deadline for plans or don’t have a plan that DWR thinks will be sustainable…[State Water Resources Control] Board will proceed with its own plan until the issues are fixed…That kind of interim plan wouldn’t have much flexibility: we’d require monitoring, collect pumping data, and set a schedule for certain corrective actions – likely reduced pumping. SGMA gives us that blunt instrument – reducing pumping – and we would probably use it.” -Sam Boland-Brien, Supervising Chief of the CA State Water Resources Control Board

Read the full interview with Sam Boland-Brien here: Enforcing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

Greater Kaweah Assessment vs. State Fees

The cost of State Intervention far exceeds the cost of local implementation, and without carrying the same benefits for the local community.

If the Greater Kaweah GSA is unable to comply with the State’s groundwater law due to a lack of funding, the State will intervene. Below is a comparison of the Greater Kaweah GSA fees at $10 per acre versus the State fees for landowners.

 

State Intervention Fee Structure

If the requirements of SGMA fail at the local level, the State will intervene and impose its own costly fees.

Click here to learn more about State Intervention fee structure.

💲 Funding the Greater Kaweah GSA

Proposition 218

Prop 218 Overview

The Greater Kaweah GSA Board is committed to retaining local control over SGMA implementation, where landowner dollars are utilized most efficiently and beneficially. To fund these efforts the Board is conducting a Proposition 218 election for approval to levy assessments on landowners within its jurisdiction. The primary objectives of the Greater Kaweah GSA Board regarding revenues are to ensure the Agency’s expenditures are truly necessary and that those costs are allocated in a fair and equitable manner. The proposed $10.00 per acre assessment has a lifetime of 6 years at the end of which the GSA may hold another Proposition 218 election for additional funding needs.

Stakeholders Impacted by the Prop 218

The affected landowners includes all parcel owners within the boundaries of the Greater Kaweah GSA excluding parcels of 4 acres or less and lands within the cities and communities of Goshen, Exeter, Hanford, Ivanhoe, Visalia, and Woodlake.

Prop 218 Background

Proposition 218 is a Constitutional Initiative approved by the voters of California in November 1996. It requires new or increased fees and assessments be approved by affected landowners. The Greater Kaweah GSA made the decision to conduct Proposition 218 because it is a transparent process and gives landowners a direct say in determining the election and SGMA implementation.

Engineer's Report

At the November 6, 2020 Board meeting, the Directors of the Greater Kaweah GSA approved the Engineer’s Report to conduct a Proposition 218 election. The Engineer’s Report is prepared in accordance with State law to describe an equitable distribution of the benefit assessments to be derived by each parcel within the Agency upon which such assessments will be levied. The Engineer’s Report discusses benefits of the Agency’s organization, proposed actions, and services provided by the Greater Kaweah GSA.

To view the full Engineer’s Report click the link below:

Engineer’s Report

Attachment A

Proposed 6-Year Assessment Schedule

The Greater Kaweah GSA is seeking landowner approval via Proposition 218 election to levy assessments up to the maximum amount, specifically $10 per acre.

The necessary funding for the Agency will be reviewed annually by the Board and, depending on the funds projected to be needed for the year, may be approved up to the maximum ($10.00 per acre) assessment rate. The table below shows the estimated expenses for the 6-year lifespan of the assessment. The Board will determine the actual budget each year prior to approving that year’s assessment.

Estimated Expenses and Proposed Budget:

Year 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026
GSA Administration 348,700 370,620 390,617 411,724 434,005 457,526
GSP Administrative Implementation 1,200,000 1,299,950 1,395,499 1,466,663 1,348,463 1,270,917
Misc. Funding Efforts 80,000 51,200 62,472 93,820 25,250 26,765
Member Agency Reimbursement 370,000 276,000 150,000 25,000 190,000 243,000
Total Budget $1,998,700 $1,997,770 $1,998,588 $1,997,208 $1,997,718 $1,998,208

The annual Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) administrative implementation efforts began in 2020 after submittal of the GSP and continue into the future. The on-going costs of GSP administrative implementation include but are not limited to, basin coordination/policy development, engineering and consultants, various types of monitoring, annual reporting, management of the data management system and preparation for the 5-year GSP updates.

The components that make up the total are shown in the table below and are explained further in the Engineer’s Report. Note that the assessment amount levied may vary from year to year, but will not exceed the maximum amount ($10.00 per acre) unless an increase is approved through a subsequent Proposition 218.

Costs (per acre) covered by the proposed assessment:

Assessment Year 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026
Category ($/acre)
GSA Administration $1.75 $1.85 $1.96 $2.06 $2.17 $2.29
GSP Administrative Implementation $6.01 $6.51 $6.98 $7.34 $6.75 $6.36
Misc. Funding Efforts $0.40 $0.26 $0.31 $0.47 $0.13 $0.13
Member Agency Reimbursement $1.85 $1.38 $0.75 $0.13 $0.95 $1.22
Total Proposed Assessment $10.00 $10.00 $10.00 $10.00 $10.00 $10.00
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