Watershed Enhancement Strategies For Groundwater Sustainability

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Mapping, Planning and Policy Research to Identify Water Management Strategies in the Kaweah and Tule Watersheds

Project Summary

The State of the Valley Report identifies water as “one of the central management challenges of the San Joaquin Valley,” and emphasizes that “[b]oth surface water and water pumped from underground aquifers are critical to the region’s farming, ranching, urban users, industry, and natural ecosystems.”(1) Implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is just beginning(2), but the overall dialogue about water sustainability has focused more on technological solutions for enhancing storage than on ways to improve the natural ability of watersheds to absorb, store and gradually release water in forms useful to people and the land. Sequoia Riverlands Trust (SRT) seeks to remedy this imbalance by exploring—and creating tools to implement—land-based approaches to support natural groundwater recharge and improved watershed function.

SRT’s project involves mapping, planning and policy research to identify water management strategies in the Kaweah and Tule Watersheds, including areas covered by the Mid-Kaweah and Lower Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs). In keeping with the goal of exploring land-based strategies, it is built around three themes:

  • Mineral and water resources;
  • Flood threats and opportunities; and
  • Soil enhancement and water resources.

The mapping and planning portion of the project is designed to explore the scope and spatial distribution of land-based opportunities by 1) mapping natural resources and land uses in the region as they relate to the three themes, 2) creating a well-documented gallery on Data Basin and developing an interactive, web-based tool that stakeholders can use to identify priority areas for watershed conservation and enhancement, and 3) identifying key elements, partners and potential funding sources for a collaborative project that will enhance natural watershed function and groundwater sustainability. The groundwater policy portion of the project is designed to support these goals by offering a set of policies and practices for GSAs to incorporate into the region’s first Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). While this project is focused on specific watersheds, we anticipate that its methods and policy recommendations will be exportable to other parts of the region. In addition, ongoing coordination with American Farmland Trust and Sustainable Conservation is helping to ensure that our work will complement the other two Greenprint demonstration projects, and vice versa.

Status of the Project

The project is ongoing, and we anticipate that our Final Report will be ready in late March.

Contact Information

Please feel free to contact Hilary Dustin (SRT’s Vice President for Conservation) at hilary@sequoiariverlands.org, or Adam Livingston (SRT’s Director of Planning and Policy) at adam@sequoiariverlands.org.

Citations
  1. Thorne, J.H., Roth, N.E., Boynton, R.M., and Woodard, N. 2014. The San Joaquin Valley Greenprint State of the Valley Report. Retrieved from http://www.fresnocog.org/san-joaquin-valley-greenprint-program.
  2. Cal. Water Code § 10720 et seq. SGMA calls for local jurisdictions, water agencies and other stakeholders to form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), which are responsible for preparing Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) for their basins or subbasins. In the San Joaquin Valley, GSAs must be formed by June 30, 2017, GSPs must be prepared by January 31, 2020, and the time horizon for achieving sustainability is 20 years.
Citation
Conservation Biology Institute. 2017. Watershed Enhancement Strategies For Groundwater Sustainability. In: Data Basin. [First published in Data Basin on Mar 8, 2017; Retrieved on Aug 19, 2017] <https://databasin.org/articles/e8ff452ac4ff426a83beb37f05842769>

About the Author

Conservation Biology Institute

The Conservation Biology Institute (CBI) provides scientific expertise to support the conservation and recovery of biological diversity in its natural state through applied research, education, planning, and community service.