Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)


On August 29, 2014 the California Legislature passed comprehensive groundwater legislation contained in SB 1168, SB 1319 and AB 1739.  Collectively, those bills, as subsequently amended, enacted the "Sustainable Groundwater Management Act" (SGMA).  Governor Brown signed the legislation on September 16, 2014 and it became effective on January 1, 2015.

SGMA requires governments and water agencies of high and medium priority basinsOpens in new window to halt overdraft and bring groundwater basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge. Under SGMA, these basins should reach sustainability within 20 years of implementing their sustainability plans. For critically over-drafted basins, that will be 2040. For the remaining high and medium priority basins, 2042 is the deadline. 

In his signing statement, the governor emphasized that “groundwater management in California is best accomplished locally.” Through the Sustainable Groundwater Management Program, DWR provides ongoing support to local agencies through guidance and financial and technical assistance. 

SGMA empowers local agencies to form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs)Opens in new window to manage basins sustainably and requires those GSAs to adopt Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs)Opens in new window for crucial groundwater basins in California.  SGMA will also allow the State to intervene and implement fees if local agencies do no satisfy certain requirements by the statutory deadlines.

San Joaquin County

SGMA required formation of local GSAs by June 30, 2017 and adoption of a GSP by January 31, 2022 for medium and high priority basins.  Basins designated as being in critical groundwater overdraft must have GSPs adopted by January 31, 2020.  

In 2016, the County was awarded a $250,000 grant from the DWR to develop technical tools to aid in the SGMA GSP process.  The San Joaquin County Public Works Division has been extensively involved in the formation and organizing of GSAs in both the Eastern San Joaquin and Tracy subbasins.  Both subbasins require additional coordination outside of the County as the subbasins extend into the adjacent Counties of Alameda, Calaveras, Contra Costa, and Stanislaus.  

Eastern San Joaquin Groundwater Authority

The Eastern San Joaquin Groundwater Authority was established as a public entity with the mission of the Authority providing dynamic, cost-effective, flexible and collegial organization to insure initial and ongoing SGMA compliance within the Basin. Its purpose is to:

  • Provide coordination among its 17 Groundwater Sustainability Agency members
  • Carry out SGMA purposes in a cooperative manner
  • Develop, adopt and implement a legally sufficient Groundwater Sustainability Plan that covers portions of the subbasin within the jurisdictional boundaries
  • Satisfy SGMA’s requirements for coordination among the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies

The Eastern San Joaquin Groundwater Authority is comprised of 17 Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) covering the entire Eastern San Joaquin Subbasin (designated by DWR as being critically overdrafted) and covers eastern San Joaquin County and portions of western Calaveras and northeastern Stanislaus counties. 

The Eastern San Joaquin Subbasin includes the following tributaries: San Joaquin River, Stanislaus River, Calaveras River, Mokelume River, Mormon Slough, and Littlejohns Creek.  The Eastern San Joaquin Subbasin is also within the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

For more information regarding the Eastern San Joaquin Groundwater Authority and activities, please click on the following link:  http://www.esjgroundwater.orgOpens in new window

Tracy Subbasin

On February 11, 2019, DWR published the final Basin Boundary Modifications effectively creating and separating the East Contra Costa Subbasin from the Tracy Subbasin, and adding the City of Lathrop to the Tracy Subbasin.  With this modification, the Tracy subbasin partners consist of:

  • Banta-Carbona Irrigation District
  • Byron-Bethany Irrigation District
  • City of Tracy
  • City of Lathrop
  • San Joaquin County
  • Stewart Tract
  • West Side irrigation District, 

DWR has designated the Tracy Subbasin as being a medium priority basin. 

The Tracy Subbasin Partners seek to collectively develop a single GSP (Tracy Subbasin GSP) by using grant funding and have selected San Joaquin County as the lead agency for coordination of the meetings of the Committee and coordinating the Tracy Subbasin GSP development among the Partners.

To view the SGMA document, click hereOpens in new window.