Smart Water, Smart Planning: Groundwater Sustainability

Groundwater Replenishment Facility

Groundwater Recharge Facility. Photo Credit: Kelly M. Grow/ California DWR

Safe, clean water is essential to California, its nearly 39 million residents, its vibrant and diverse economy, and diverse natural ecosystems. California’s supply of accessible, affordable water, however, is limited. Meeting all needs sustainably is one of the state’s greatest challenges.

Groundwater provides more than one-third of the water used by all Californians each year (more than half in drought years). During California’s drought cycles, excessive groundwater pumping causes overdraft, failing wells, water quality impairments, environmental harm, and irreversible land subsidence that damages infrastructure and diminishes underground storage capacity.

Maintaining our quality of life while accommodating continued growth requires careful planning and forward-thinking management of the state’s water resources. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is a step in the right direction.

LGC’s newest Ahwahnee Water Principles Factsheet, “Smart Water, Smart Planning,” details how local governments can implement SGMA and start working toward sustainable groundwater management in their own jurisdictions.

Download “Smart Water, Smart Planning”

Livable Places Update (Oct 2016): Managing California’s Groundwater


Department of Water Resources (DWR), the agency responsible for SGMA implementation, is the first line of support for agencies navigating the new legislation. DWR offers technical support, financial assistance and guidance in understanding SGMA regulations. Regional offices provide workshops, trainings, and resources to local planning agencies. Sources of immediate, reliable, and long-term state and local funding is available to local agencies specifically for planning and implementing SGMA activities.

Sustainable Groundwater Management

  • SGMA updates and announcements
  • GSAs and formation table
  • Best Management Practices
  • Communication and Outreach

Groundwater Information Center

  • Groundwater Hydrology Introduction
  • Water well basics
  • Regional groundwater plans
  • Data collection and monitoring

California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring (CASGEM)

  • Public access to groundwater monitoring and groundwater elevation data
  • Monitoring entities
  • Basin information
  • Tools, including GIS capabilities

Financial Assistance Opportunities

  • Prop 1 Technical Assistance Funding Program for small, disadvantaged communities
  • Infrastructure State Revolving Fund Program provides financing for public infrastructure projects.
  • Sustainable Groundwater Planning Grant Program from DWR to develop & implement sustainable groundwater planning and projects

State agencies and NGOs are also offering resources and technical assistance to local governments and agencies implementing SGMA activities.

State Agencies

  • OPR for general plan updates technical assistance
  • State Water Board for free GSA facilitation services


Other Resources