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Groundwater Sustainability Plan revisions underway

Revisions to the seven Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) in the Kings Subbasin are underway. In response to the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR) noted deficiencies, revisions are likely to include increased coordination between the Kings Subbasin GSPs on subsidence criteria, clarification on water quality impacts, a commitment to further explore interconnected groundwater-surface water systems, and a mitigation program for dry wells.

The revisions to the GSP come in response DWR’s comments provided to the Kings Subbasin in January 2022 following a 2-year review period. As with many GSPs across the State and all in the San Joaquin Valley, the North Kings GSA’s GSP was determined to be incomplete, requiring revisions within 180 days.

If revisions are approved, a well mitigation program would be developed over the next one to two years to address the impacts from expected groundwater level declines before the region reaches sustainability by 2040. By providing a funding mechanism for shallow wells that run dry, the program would ensure the North Kings GSA addresses groundwater level decline impacts the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR) considers “significant and unreasonable”. Although well mitigation is not a requirement outlined in the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), avoiding “significant and unreasonable” impacts is.

A well mitigation program of this magnitude requires careful development and consideration from a wide variety of stakeholders. This process will take time beyond the short 6-month GSP revision period afforded by DWR following their comment letter to the Kings Subbasin GSAs in January 2022. Due to the tight timeframe, the GSAs plan to identify the well mitigation program and note the expected 12 to 24 month development period in the GSP submittal at the end of July 2022.

Although not yet approved by the North Kings GSA Board, the GSP revisions have gone through extensive efforts by the Kings Subbasin Coordination group and their technical consultants, Provost & Pritchard, to thoroughly address DWR’s comments. The coordinated group has met routinely since receiving comments in January, often including DWR in its discussions, to ensure revisions are on the right track.

SGMA was developed and passed with the spirit of local control over groundwater management. Seriously considering DWRs comments and the resulting revisions is critical to maintaining local control over implementation of the law. All drafted revisions are a full faith effort to fully address the concerns of the State, while keeping in mind what is best for our local groundwater users and stakeholders.

The North Kings GSA Advisory Committee will consider a recommendation for Board approval of the revised GSP at its June 10th meeting. If approved for recommendation by the Committee, the Board will consider approval of the revised GSP at its June 23rd Board Meeting. The updated GSP will be resubmitted to DWR for review by the July 27th deadline, with comments due back to the Kings Subbasin in December.

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