Groundwater Management Program

State Intervention (The State Backstop)

SGMA requires that California's high- and medium-priority groundwater basins be managed sustainably. Most basins will have to form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies and develop Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) that make basins sustainable within 20 years of implementation. Local agencies in basins that are already being managed sustainably were given the option to submit an alternative to a GSP by January 1, 2017. If locals are unable or unwilling to sustainably manage their basin, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board or Board) can step in to protect groundwater using a process called state intervention. State intervention is triggered by one of the following events:

Date Event
July 1, 2017
Entire basin is not covered by GSA(s) or Alternative
Feb. 1, 2020
Basin is in critical overdraft and there is no plan or DWR fails plan
Feb. 1, 2022
No plan or DWR fails plan and basin is in long-term overdraft
Feb. 1, 2025
DWR fails plan and basin has significant surface water depletions

Levels of State Intervention

  • Umanaged Area
    An unmanaged area is a part of a basin not within the management area of a GSA before July 1, 2017. Anyone that extracts groundwater from an unmanaged area must submit an extraction report to the State Water Board each year. The first extraction reports are due by Dec. 15, 2017, and must include well location and capacity, where the water was used, purpose of use, and monthly extraction volumes.
  • Probationary Basin
    If locals fail to form a GSA, fail to develop an adequate sustainability plan, or fail to implement the plan successfully, the Board may designate the entire basin probationary. Anyone who extracts groundwater from a probationary basin must file an extraction report with the State Water Board unless the Board decides to exclude certain types of extractions. The Board may require the use of a meter to measure extractions and reporting of additional information.
  • Interim Plan
    The Board will allow local agencies time to fix the issues in the basin that led to probation. If local agencies are unable to fix the deficiencies, the Board will develop an interim plan to directly manage groundwater extractions. An interim plan will contain corrective actions, a timeline to make the basin sustainable, and a monitoring plan to ensure corrective actions are working.

State Intervention Resources

State Intervention Questions

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