Sacramento– Today, Assemblymember Devon J. Mathis (R- Porterville) announced that AB 754 passed out of the Assembly with bipartisan support. The measure would authorize the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to extend the deadline for the submission of a groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) for a high- or medium priority basin for up to 180 days.
“A vital component in the development of a GSP is that of public outreach, and engagement with local groups and stakeholders through public meetings. However, for many local or groundwater sustainability agency’s this process has been severely haltered, and at times not possible, due to the restrictions put in place by the state and Governor in response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mathis. “Despite attempts by agency’s to overcome these issues by adopting and conducting internet and phone-based meetings, in many regions this has not be possible due to the limited availability and accessibility of broadband infrastructure and internet access.”
The state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires local water users to bring groundwater use to sustainable levels by the early 2040s. SGMA requires governments and water agencies of high and medium priority basins 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 and they were required to be managed under a GSP by January 31, 2020. For the remaining high and medium priority basins, 2042 is the deadline for sustainability and must be managed by a GSP by January 31, 2022.
“In granting a local or groundwater sustainability agency the ability to request up to a 180 day extension, AB 754 is a common-sense solution that provides agencies with the necessary flexibility, acknowledges the unprecedented challenges that Covid-19 has presented, and balances the importance of an accurate and effective groundwater sustainability plan,” said Mathis. “I’m grateful for the bipartisan support received by my colleagues in the Assembly. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure that this bill provides real relief to our struggling GSAs.”
AB 754 is currently awaiting referral in the Senate Rules Committee.