What is Groundwater?

Right under your feet, millions of gallons of water exist between rocks, sand, and gravel. Those permeable bodies of rock and sediment that are saturated with water are called aquifers.  Much of the water in the world exists below the surface- in fact, there is twenty to thirty times more water in the ground than there is in all the earth’s rivers and lakes. During dry years like this one, groundwater fills up bodies of surface water and serves as a “critical buffer against the impacts of drought and climate change.” In some communities, it is the only source of drinking water. Groundwater is essential to every facet of life in our state and region and has immense potential to increase our resilient water supply.

Sustaining Groundwater Supplies with Better Management

In the Central Valley this essential resource was being pumped from the ground faster than it could be replenished. Results of this include lower groundwater levels, which in some areas can cause the ground elevation to lower. This is called subsidence, which can cause damage to surface structures such as roads, building foundations, aqueducts, bridges, pipelines, and flood control structures.

When groundwater is not managed sustainably, water quality can also be impacted. Water quality can degrade due to over pumping, limiting its use for irrigation or drinking without expensive treatment.

Sustainable management of groundwater is needed to address these issues, in addition to avoiding the costs of energy expenses required to pump groundwater from greater depths, the expense of fixing damages caused by land subsidence, and subsequent indirect impacts such as higher food prices.

With these costs in consideration, it is evident that groundwater must be managed sustainability for the well-being of our Central Valley communities, agricultural operations, and economy.

In 2014, California Governor, Jerry Brown passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. This piece of legislation is commonly known as SGMA. SGMA requires local governments and water agencies to bring groundwater basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge by 2040.

This led to the creation of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), which are agencies that manage groundwater at the local level. The Greater Kaweah GSA was formed in 2016 and is responsible for implementing a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) that describes local groundwater issues and identifies appropriate solutions.

GSAs designed Groundwater Sustainability Plans, (GSPs), documents that outline the agencies’ detailed plans for achieving sustainability. GSAs work with local landowners and communities on implementing their GSPs.

The Greater Kaweah GSA (GKSGA) Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) and its other component documents underwent a public review period of 90-days beginning September 16, 2019. A public hearing was held on December 16, 2019 concluding the comment period. Several committee meetings and Board meetings were held to publicly discuss and consider comments received. On January 22, 2020 the GKGSA Board of Directors took action to approve the Kaweah Subbasin Coordination Agreement and adopt the Greater Kaweah GSA GSP.

Groundwater sustainability requires the collaborative efforts of landowners, farmers, residents, policy makers, advocacy groups, engineers, water providers, and more!

You are part of the solution.  Connect with Greater Kaweah GSA on Twitter ! Get information on SGMA, groundwater, and more sent straight to your inbox by signing up for Greater Kaweah GSA’s email list.

Central Valley Groundwater Month (CVGM) is a locally driven campaign to provide groundwater education to the public and amplify Central Valley voices surrounding groundwater-related issues in partnership with the Kings River Conservation District.


Central Valley Groundwater Month: September 2021
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