Groundwater Sustainability Plans in the Sacramento Region

Updated: September 1, 2020

What are Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs)?

Our region is in the process of developing Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) for the three groundwater subbasins that underlay Sacramento County and portions of adjacent counties. These subbasins – the North American, South American, and Cosumnes – provide essential water resources for our communities, agriculture, and the environment. The GSP planning process is designed to address six indicators of groundwater subbasin health. These include the change in long term groundwater levels within each subbasin (are they increasing or decreasing), is each subbasin’s groundwater storage declining, is salt water intruding into the subbasins, are there any groundwater quality concerns in each subbasin, is there any significant ground subsiding in each subbasin, and are subbasin surface water resources (rivers and streams) being depleted because of groundwater levels. Assessments and modeling are being done to determine answers to these questions, and, in turn, to formulate subbasin management objectives and projects to sustainably manage the subbasins and improve them where necessary. This planning and basin management activity will result in additional costs to water users in the region. However, proper planning and subbasin management actions should ensure that the region will benefit from a reliable and sustainable water system capable of providing water resources for all beneficial uses and users even with the expected changes climate change is expected to bring.


What is currently happening regarding our GSP Development?

Your involvement in the planning and decision-making process is important. The following materials provide a brief status of each subbasin’s planning efforts and information on how you can become involved. The ECOS/Habitat 2020 Water Committee will be updating the following materials as the subbasin GSP processes proceed.


North American Subbasin

The North American Subbasin includes the area north of the American River, east of the Sacramento River, south of the Feather River and bounded by the foothills to the east. Click here for information regarding the planning activities currently underway, including opportunities for public participation. Initial assessments of the SGMA indicators of groundwater subbasin health are as follows: salt water intrusion and ground subsidence do not appear to be significant problems; technical work continues to evaluate the this issues of groundwater quality, reduction in groundwater storage, surface water depletion, and lowering groundwater levels. This fall stakeholders can expect a review of the subbasin’s water budget and the development of Sustainable Management Criteria (SMGs) for the above indicators. The next public meeting is scheduled for October 8. Look for information about it on the above website.


South American Subbasin

The South American Subbasin includes the area south of the American River, east of the Sacramento River, north of the Cosumnes River and bounded by the foothills to the east. Click here for information regarding the planning activities and opportunities for public participation. The first public meeting regarding the GSP process was held in July and a recording, along with handouts, is available on the website. A community meeting focusing on agricultural residents is scheduled for August 6 and information about the meeting is on the website. Current technical work is focusing on characterizing the basin and evaluating the six indicators of groundwater subbasin health. Initial assessments of the SGMA indicators of groundwater subbasin health are as follows: salt water intrusion and ground subsidence do not appear to be significant problems; water quality issues exists but are being managed by others; and, technical work continues to evaluate the issues of reduction in groundwater storage, surface water depletion, and lowering groundwater levels. The next GSP working group meeting, which is open to the public, is scheduled for September 11. Information about the meeting can be found on the above web site.


Cosumnes Subbasin

The Cosumnes Subbasin includes the area south of the Cosumnes River, east of the Sacramento River, north of the Mokelumne River, and bounded by the foothills to the east. Click here for information regarding the planning activities and opportunities for public participation. The working group developing the GSP meets every third Wednesday and the public is invited to attend. The working group has also initiated a Surface Water Advisory Group (SWAG) to look at issues associated with groundwater/surface water interaction and ecological resources dependent on groundwater. The SWAG was recently briefed by the GSP technical staff and were advised on the status of the six subbasin indicators: salt water intrusion and subsidence are considered low concern; water quality is considered moderate concern; and, high concern areas include the reduction in groundwater storage, surface water depletion, and lowering groundwater levels. Information and handouts from all meetings are available on the website. The next GSP working group meeting is scheduled for September 16.


All three GSP plan development processes have expansive public participation processes and you can sign up on their respective websites to get notifications of public meetings and the release of technical documents.

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