Non-SGMA Groundwater Management
In 1992, the State Legislature provided an opportunity for local groundwater management with the passage of AB 3030, the Groundwater Management Act (Water Code §10750 et seq. Part 2.75). Many basins developed Groundwater Management Plans (GWMPs) to provide planned and coordinated monitoring, operation, and administration of groundwater basins with the goal of long-term groundwater resource sustainability.
On September 16, 2014, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed into law a three-bill legislative package, composed of AB 1739 (Dickinson), SB 1168 (Pavley), and SB 1319 (Pavley), collectively known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).
As of January 1, 2015, new or updated Groundwater Management Plans cannot be adopted in medium and high priority basins. Under SGMA, in basins designated as medium and high priority, local public agencies and Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) are required to develop and implement Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) or Alternatives to GSPs. Existing GWMPs will be in effect until GSPs are adopted in medium and high priority basins.
GWMPs may be developed in very low- or low-priority basins as they are not subject to SGMA. Information provided on this page is intended for those eligible to prepare GWMPs. Basin Prioritization information can be found under Bulletin 118.
Groundwater Management Act
Groundwater Management is outlined in the California Water Code, Division 6, Part 2.75, Chapters 1-5, Sections 10750 through 10755.4. The Groundwater Management Act was first introduced in 1992 as Assembly Bill 3030, and has since been modified by Senate Bill 1938 in 2002 and Assembly Bill 359 in 2011. These significant pieces of legislation establish, among other things, specific procedures on how GWMPs are to be developed and adopted by local agencies.
The intent of the Groundwater Management Act is to encourage local agencies to work cooperatively to manage groundwater resources within their jurisdictions and to provide a methodology for developing a Groundwater Management Plan.
- Assembly Bill 3030 (AB 3030)
AB 3030 was signed into law in 1992 and provides a systematic procedure for an existing local agency to develop a Groundwater Management Plan.
- Senate Bill 1938 (SB 1938)
SB 1938, signed into law in 2002, modified the Groundwater Management Act by requiring any public agency seeking State funds administered through DWR for the construction of groundwater projects to prepare and implement a Groundwater Management Plan with specified required components. The SB 1938 requirements apply not just to management areas that overlie Bulletin 118 defined groundwater basins, but to those agencies that have groundwater management outside of those basins.
- Assembly Bill 359 (AB 359)
AB 359, signed into law in 2011, modified the Groundwater Management Act by requiring public agencies to prepare and implement a groundwater management plan with an additional required component that is focused on identifying groundwater recharge areas. The AB 359 legislation also includes several plan adoption procedural changes, requires GWMPs to be submitted to DWR, and requires DWR to provide public access to this information.
- Senate Bill X7 6 and Assembly Bill 1152 - California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring (CASGEM) program
- The California Budget Act of 1999 authorized the update to Bulletin 118 and directed the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to complete several tasks, including developing criteria for evaluating groundwater management plans and developing a model groundwater management ordinance.
Since the early 1990s, more than 125 Groundwater Management Plans (GWMP) have been developed, implemented, and updated.
Reminder: GWMPs can only be developed in low or very low-priority basins as they are not subject to SGMA.
There are several types of groundwater management plans based on the legislation in effect when the plan was adopted. The table below describes the different plans and plan components.
Type of plan
Approximate adoption dates1
Pre SB 1938
Voluntary components, definitions, and procedures
Plans that are generally adopted before 2002 (SB 1938 enacted in 2002)
Plans address the earlier AB 3030 and AB 255 legislation
Required components, conditions for funding, and procedures
Plans that are generally adopted or updated during or after 2002 (SB 1938 enacted in 2002)
Plans address required components identified in SB 1938 legislation. Plans can include earlier legislated groundwater components.
Required components for recharge, conditions for funding, and procedures
Plans that are generally adopted or updated during or after 2012 (AB 359 enacted in 2012 and 2013)
Plans address required components identified in AB 359 legislation. Plans must also include SB 1938 requirements and can include earlier legislated groundwater components.
Note 1 – The plan adoption date is only used for preliminary type classification. Each plan must be reviewed to determine actual level of legislative adaption.
The process for developing a GWMP can be found in the Guidance for Adopting a Groundwater Management Plan. In addition to the required components, GWMPs should consider the 12 voluntary components found in AB 3030. DWR recommendations for a model groundwater management ordinance and groundwater management plan are included in Chapter 3 of Bulletin 118-2003. DWR does not regulate groundwater quality or water rights related to groundwater use; contact State and Regional Water Boards for additional information.
The Water Code requires local agencies to provide DWR with a copy of their resolution of intent to adopt a groundwater management plan within 30 days of adoption. Resolutions and related information submitted to the Department are listed below.
Agencies intending to adopt a groundwater management plan should email the required documents to GSPSubmittal@water.ca.gov.
Local Groundwater Ordinances
Groundwater management is also achieved through local groundwater ordinances. Ordinances are laws adopted by local agencies such as cities or counties. Many ordinances related to groundwater have been adopted by local governments; however, the counties and cities are not required to submit updates to DWR. Groundwater related ordinances can be accessed from most individual city or county websites.
DWR does not provide a list of county and city ordinances at this time. For city government websites, visit the League of California Cities. For county government websites, visit California State Association of Counties.
California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring (CASGEM) Program - collaboration between local monitoring parties and DWR to collect groundwater elevations statewide and make that information publicly available.
Data & Tools
We have a long history of data collection, monitoring, and reporting. With the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), there is an increased need for local and state agencies and the public to easily access water data in order to make informed management decisions. Here you will find a curated set of data, interactive mapping tools, and reports which are important resources to inform sustainable groundwater management decision-making.
Senior Engineering Geologist
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P.O. Box 942836
Sacramento, CA 94236-0001