Regulating Groundwater in California: How the Landscape Is Changing with SGMA

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Stoel Rives attorney Wes Miliband authored an article for Environmental Law News titled “Regulating Groundwater in California: How the Landscape Is Changing with SGMA.” The article discusses the status of efforts to implement California’s nearly two-year-old Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which for the first time requires management of groundwater supplies in the state. 

In the article, Miliband discusses:

  • SGMA’s key requirements, timeline for implementation, and the roles of regulatory agencies and stakeholders
  • The designation of SGMA regulations as “emergency regulations,” imposed “to avoid serious harm to the public peace, health, safety, or general welfare”
  • The status of groundwater basin boundary modifications
  • Requirements and status of formation of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), which are meant as the primary agencies to achieve groundwater sustainability by developing Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP)
  • Regulations and status of formation of GSPs, procedural requirements for GSPs, and alternatives to GSPs
  • Known and unknown consequences, including with regard to water rights, climate change and the “human right to water,” of the adoption of SGMA. 

Miliband concludes: “SGMA implementation will be much like climbing a mountain, with common prerequisites being formulation of a plan, possession of technical (and legal) skills, and preparation and execution supported by tremendous endurance given the ongoing sustainable groundwater management practices required by SGMA.” 

Read “Regulating Groundwater in California: How the Landscape Is Changing with SGMA,” published in Environmental Law News, a publication of the Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of California, Fall 2016. (Subscription required.) 

For earlier coverage by Miliband of SGMA, click here

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