At their July 22 meeting, the Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) Board adopted the revisions to the Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). The revisions were in response to the Department of Water Resources (DWR’s) ruling that the GSP was incomplete after a two-year review by the State. The Greater Kaweah GSP was one of three GSPs in the Kaweah Subbasin ruled incomplete. The three GSAs in the Kaweah Subbasin including Greater Kaweah, Mid-Kaweah, and East Kaweah, are mutually responsible for bringing the subbasin into sustainability.
DWR identified three main deficiencies in their comments: groundwater levels, land subsidence, and interconnected surface water. The deficiencies centered around the Sustainable Management Criteria, which are the quantitative measurements that define sustainable management of a subbasin.
Once DWR’s comments were received, the three Kaweah Subbasin GSAs immediately coordinated their efforts to revise their GSPs. To address the deficiency in lowering groundwater levels, the Kaweah Subbasin’s approach is to assess potential well impacts to beneficial users of the groundwater, such as agriculture, disadvantaged communities, municipalities and small systems. The assessment will be based on completed well depth. Analysis zones will be established based on management areas, aquifers and well depth. A well mitigation plan will also be created.
To address the deficiency in land subsidence, the Kaweah Subbasin will focus on total subsidence, current and future. For supply channels such as canals, a less than 10 percent loss in capacity of the channel is allowed. For flood protection in waterways, such as rivers, a similar loss of less than 10 percent is allowed. Well collapse due to subsidence will also be considered. A mitigation plan will be developed that evaluates channel capacity mitigation and direct subsidence impacts on domestic wells.
To address DWR’s comments on interconnected surface water, which is the impact to waterways continuously connected to groundwater, the Kaweah Subbasin plans to fill groundwater level monitoring data gaps to better understand how groundwater pumping may be impacting waterways.
To ensure public participation in the GSP revision process, the Greater Kaweah GSA noticed a 90-day comment period beginning on February 7, 2022. In addition, during several Board and committee meetings, GSP revision updates were also provided and public comments were heard. After the official comment period ended, comments were still considered by the Greater Kaweah GSA Board through mid-July 2022. Currently, DWR has opened a 60-day public comment period through the end of September.
On July 27, 2022, the Greater Kaweah’s revised GSP along with the Mid-Kaweah and Eastern Kaweah GSPs were submitted prior to the deadline. DWR will review the three GSPs to evaluate whether their comments were sufficiently addressed. If the GSAs failed to take sufficient actions to correct the deficiencies, the GSPs will not be approved. If this happens, the State Water Resources Control Board has the authority to intervene and take over management of the Subbasin. However, it is believed by the Kaweah Subbasin leadership that the coordinated and thoughtful work by the three Kaweah Subbasin GSAs have provided for GSP revisions that have completely addressed the comments made by DWR. It is anticipated the State will complete their review no later than early 2023. To view the final revised GSP go to http://greaterkaweahgsa.org/resources/gsp.