Comments regarding sufficiency of South American Groundwater Sustainability Plan

April 15, 2022

Here is a summary of our comments:
1) We find the climate change analysis used as the basis for the GSP is not sufficiently robust to reflect currently anticipated climate change conditions for the region. The analysis does not reflect current science. For this reason, we suggest DWR provide more direction in this area for future GSP updates.
2) We believe a review of the GSP utilizing Article 6, Section 355.4 finds the plan deficient in several important areas. Our findings are listed in more detail below. DWR should work with the subbasin GSAs to address the shortcomings described below before approving the GSP.

Click here to read the letter in full.

Regional Groundwater Sustainability – The Plans are Finished so what’s Next?

Over the past several years local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) charged with managing the region’s groundwater have been assessing the condition of the region’s groundwater resources and developing monitoring systems and management plans and projects to maintain the sustainability of these resources for the foreseeable future. These efforts have resulted in the completion of three Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) that cover each of the region’s groundwater subbasins – North American Subbasin, South American Subbasin, and Cosumnes Subbasin. The GSPs respond to State required planning criteria outlined in the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The California Department of Water Resources webpage has information about SGMA, the GSP planning process, and a public portal containing the three GSPs for the Sacramento region.  

ECOS, through the Water Committee, has participated in the development of these GSPs by attending public meetings and workshops, and providing comments on the draft plans. We have condensed these comments into a matrix comparing comments for each of the three GSPs. The matrix contains a summary of each original comment and, in bold, the actions taken by the GSAs to address each comment as documented in the final adopted GSPs. The full text of each ECOS comment letter can be found on the ECOS web site.

While some comments have been addressed in the final plans, others were not. For example, key aspects of the GSPs are six sustainability indicators that establish thresholds for when management actions must be taken to assure continued subbasin sustainability. The North American Subbasin GSP calls for management actions to be taken after one year of one or more of the GSP sustainability indicators exceeding action levels thus indicating the subbasin is in trouble. Unfortunately, the South American Subbasin allows three years of indicator exceedance that may lead to no actions being taken until the fourth year of an indicator being exceeded. The Cosumnes Subbasin did adjust their corresponding exceedance time periods but still allow a problem to exceed one or more threshold criteria for at least two years before actions to remedy the situation are taken. ECOS has argued that a one year exceedance criteria is acceptable and should be utilized in all three GSPs.

ECOS also believes climate change is not effectively addressed in the plans. All three GSPs base their management actions on a climate scenario that seems less realistic than current climate experience and the latest climate science indicates. This errant planning assumption may significantly overestimate the amount of groundwater available to meet demands in the future. If not corrected, sustainable management of the subbasins may be very difficult within the next decade.

ECOS members are meeting with the local GSA representatives to explore options to address our concerns prior to the next GSP updates which are due in 2025. Depending on the outcome of these meetings ECOS may find it necessary to participate in the State’s GSP public comment process.

Click here to view the matrix.

ECOS Board Member Rory Pilling Wins Watershed Contest!

What can you do to improve your watershed?

Safety For People Means Safety For The Environment

Rory Pilling and Rae Jacobson are proud to place first in the 2021 Caring for Our Watersheds contest for their proposal to raise awareness about the social and environmental issues surrounding homelessness. Specifically, the group will advocate for the passing of the Right To Rest Act to ensure that homeless people can live in the main parts of Sacramento- allowing access to sanitation and trash disposal, as well as proximity to transport and job opportunities. Their hope is that the Right to Rest Act will protect homeless individuals, but also alleviate some of the waste and environmental impact from homeless encampments along Sacramento waterways.

For first place in the contest, Rory and Rae won $1,000 for themselves and $1,000 for their school, George Washington Carver School of Arts and Sciences. In total, students compete for over $6,000 cash rewards and participating schools are eligible for over $11,000 cash rewards. Nutrien also provides $10,000 in funding to help implement students’ ideas.

Check out the top finalists here.
View photos of the event on Facebook here.

Caring for Our Watersheds California, 2021

Where is Your Watershed?

Do you have your facts straight about your local watershed? The Sacramento River Watershed is a beautiful place to work, live, and play. Learn more about our watershed and how you can help protect it here.


Development of the 2020 Urban Water Management Plan

On May 5, 2021, the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS), the Sierra Club Sacramento Group and the League of Women Voters of Sacramento County submitted a joint letter to a number of local water agencies summarizing our comments on the current development of the 2020 Urban Water Management Plan. Below is the opening of our letter.

The development of the 2020 Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP) including the Water Shortage Contingency Plan (WSCP) lacks a full, open, and meaningful public participation process. State law provides a minimum 14-day public notice prior to the adoption hearing. but in view of the fact that the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly hydrological analysis by the federal government, shows 93% of California in either “severe,” “extreme” or exceptional” drought, this suggests a public voice is more important now than ever.

Communities throughout the region are concerned about the availability of water for drinking, the environment and affordability issues. Climate change magnifies these concerns. The assumptions and projections documented in the Urban Water Management Plans, and the specific conservation and efficiency programs planned are of great interest to the community.

Click here to read the letter in full.

Sacramento Climate Action Plan: draft ready for public review!

March 12, 2021

Sacramento County’s draft Communitywide Climate Action Plan (CAP), which addresses greenhouse gas reductions and climate change adaptation, is now available for public review.

An online workshop on the draft CAP will take place via Zoom at the Sacramento County Environmental Commission (SEC) meeting on Monday, March 15, at 6 p.m. The workshop will be an opportunity for the public and the SEC to provide feedback on the draft CAP.

Learn more


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