California Institute for Water Resources
California Institute for Water Resources
California Institute for Water Resources
University of California
California Institute for Water Resources

Comprehensive characterization and geospatial analysis of legal controls on new groundwater extractions

Summary:

Recent droughts in the American West have highlighted both the value of our aquifers in securing water and the impact on our aquifers from groundwater depletion. A comprehensive characterization and geospatial analysis of legal controls on new groundwater extractions and groundwater governance systems could inform groundwater management. This research focuses on developing a comprehensive review of how the western states regulate new groundwater extractions to provide a framework of allocation systems; the framework will aim to inform groundwater management in California and increase the accessibility of legal information to policy makers and lay persons advocating to ensure that groundwater management under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is both sustainable and equitable.

Investigator:

Debra Perrone
Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies Program
University of California, Santa Barbara

Project description:

Recent droughts in the American West have highlighted both the value of our aquifers in securing water and the impact on our aquifers from groundwater depletion. The West has traditionally been seen as a place that augments supply rather than controls demand, but our preliminary work indicates that, outside California, some states have been regulating new groundwater extractions since the beginning of the 20th century.

A comprehensive characterization and geospatial analysis of legal controls on new groundwater extractions and groundwater governance systems could inform groundwater management in California, where experience with regulating extractions is limited and where stakeholders are hungry for equitable participation. Allocations may not be a Groundwater Sustainability Agency’s first choice of action, but the legislation recognizes that regulating extraction allocations is likely to be required in places where augmenting supplies will not be sufficient.

The objective of this work is to inform groundwater management in California and increase the accessibility of legal information to policy makers and lay persons advocating to ensure that groundwater management under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is both sustainable and equitable.

To meet this objective, we will develop a comprehensive review of how the western states regulate new groundwater extractions to provide a framework of allocation systems and evaluate governance structures of allocation systems to improve our understanding of participatory engagement. Additionally, we will compare our findings from the West to Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) to identify overlapping frameworks and to suggest best practices for expanding upon preliminary allocation plans in GSPs.

We will disseminate policy relevant information to improve the management of groundwater in an era of increasing drought. The work provides a platform to increase the visibility of successful approaches used to regulate groundwater extractions in California, with broader impacts relevant to millions of Americans in the western United States that rely on groundwater.

Debra Perrone in the field.
Debra Perrone in the field.

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