Groundwater Sustainability Plans
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) in the state’s high and medium priority basins to develop and implement Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) or Alternatives to GSPs. These GSPs and Alternatives provide roadmaps for how groundwater basins will reach long-term sustainability.
On January 18, 2024, the Department completed the initial GSP reviews for all basins that were required to submit plans by January 31, 2022. The Department’s determinations can be viewed on the SGMA Portal. The current status of California’s groundwater basins is:
- 71 approved basins
- 13 incomplete basins
- 6 inadequate basins
GSAs are required to begin implementing their GSPs upon their submittal to the Department. If a basin’s GSP is approved, plan implementation continues, and the GSA has 20 years to achieve sustainability within the basin. Basins deemed incomplete have 180 days to rectify the deficiencies in their GSPs that precluded approval and resubmit a revised plan. The Department evaluates the resubmitted GSPs, and basins are determined to be either approved or inadequate. Basins that are determined to be inadequate are referred to the State Water Resources Control Board for possible State Intervention.
Regardless of determination status, basins are required to submit annual reports following adoption of a GSP or Alternative. Periodic evaluations are also due at least every five years for approved basins. For further details, see the Department’s guidance document on what is expected to be included in annual reports and periodic evaluations, as well as plan amendments. These reports are reviewed by the Department to determine if GSP implementation is on track and likely to lead to basin sustainability within 20 years of implementation.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) evaluates GSPs to determine if they comply with SGMA, substantially comply with the GSP Regulations, and whether implementation of the GSP is likely to achieve the sustainability goal for the basin. DWR’s evaluation and assessment is based on criteria outlined in the GSP Regulations.
DWR evaluates GSPs within two years of their submittal and issues a written assessment. See the GSP Evaluation fact sheet for more information on GSP assessment outcomes.
For more information related to the GSP Assessments released in October, 2023 please find the following materials:
- Press Release
- Local Actions are Key to Progress in Reaching Groundwater Sustainability
- Frequently Asked Questions: Incomplete Determinations & Next Steps
SGMA requires GSAs to submit annual reports to DWR each April 1 following adoption of a GSP. Annual reports will provide information on groundwater conditions and implementation of the GSP for the prior water year. DWR has prepared information and answers to frequently asked questions on the GSP annual reports in the following document:
If you have any other questions about GSP annual reports, you can email GSPSubmittal@water.ca.gov.
GSP Initial Notification
GSAs are required to provide a GSP initial notification prior to initiating development of a GSP. The initial notification provides to the public, and the Department, a written description of the manner in which interested parties may participate in the development and implementation of the GSP. The GSA shall make the information publicly available by posting relevant information on the GSA’s website.
GSAs are required to provide the GSP initial notification written statement to the legislative body of any city, county, or city and county, located within the geographic area to be covered by the GSP to coordinate land use and water management planning. In addition, if the geographic area to be covered by the GSP includes a public water system regulated by the Public Utilities Commission, the GSA shall provide the written statement to the commission.
Related to the GSP initial notification is a “maintenance of interested persons list”. A GSA is required to establish a list of persons interested in receiving notices – any person may request, in writing, to be placed on the list of interested persons. Also, GSAs are required to encourage the active involvement of diverse social, cultural, and economic elements of the population within the groundwater basin prior to and during the development and implementation of the GSP.
GSAs are required to submit GSP initial notification information to DWR using the SGMA Portal – GSP Initial Notification System. For more information see Water Code §§ 10723.4 and 10727.8 and 23 CCR § 353.6.
If GSAs have questions about initial notifications, please contact the Regional Coordinators in DWR's four Regional Offices or DWR Headquarters in Sacramento:
GSPs submitted to DWR are available online on DWR’s SGMA Portal. DWR will post GSPs within 20 days of submittal for public viewing. DWR’s posting starts a public comment period. Public comments are welcomed and encouraged - a SGMA Portal account is not necessary.
More information about how to comment on a GSP can be found in the following set of frequently asked questions:
For GSAs that are currently preparing GSPs, DWR hosted two workshops and a webcast to provide an overview of the online GSP Reporting System in 2019. The webcast is available below under Resources and Guidance.
Additional materials detailing the step-by-step process for submitting a GSP online through the GSP Reporting System can also be found below.
DWR and the State Water Resources Control Board have developed a fact sheet which provides an overview on submittal and evaluation of GSPs from critically overdrafted basins. The fact sheet provides information on the roles of both DWR and the State Water Board and a timeline of activities.
- Overview of Submittal and Evaluation of Groundwater Sustainability Plans in Critically Overdrafted Basins (English)
- Overview of Submittal and Evaluation of Groundwater Sustainability Plans in Critically Overdrafted Basins (Español)
The California Department of Water Resources oversees the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), including groundwater sustainability plans that are submitted for evaluation every five years for review and assessment by the Department. The following video highlights the submittal process on the SGMA Portal for basins submitting plans in 2022:
2022 Groundwater Sustainability Plan Submittal Workshop
Under Water Code Section 10733.2, DWR was required to draft and adopt emergency regulations for the evaluation of GSPs and Alternatives, the implementation of GSPs and Alternatives, and coordination agreements.
The GSP regulations were developed following a comprehensive, multi-phased public outreach and engagement process. Throughout 2015 and into 2016, DWR met regularly with numerous SGMA advisory groups and conducted public meetings and webinars to gather perspectives from other statewide stakeholders, partners, and local agencies. The input received was considered in the Draft GSP Emergency Regulations.
On May 18, 2016, the proposed GSP Emergency Regulations were presented to the California Water Commission for consideration of approval. The California Water Commission unanimously approved the proposed regulations, as written, and we submitted the Final GSP Emergency Regulations and the Notice of Proposed Emergency Rulemaking to the Office of Administrative Law