Long-Term Groundwater Sustainability Plan Approved for the North American Subbasin

By February 9, 2022News, News & Info

Plan Identifies the Sacramento Regional Water Bank as a Key Management Action

A long-term plan for protecting the groundwater basin underlying parts of Sacramento, Placer and Sutter counties has been approved after nearly five years of scientific study and public input.

The North American Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan, required under the landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, provides a roadmap for sustainably managing the groundwater basin over the next 20 years.

The basin is one of the Sacramento region’s primary sources for drinking water, especially during drought years, and also provides more than half of the water supply used for agriculture.

“Approval of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan marks a new chapter as we work together to sustainably manage the basin with an eye toward adapting our region’s water resources to climate change,” said Jim Peifer, Executive Director of the Sacramento Groundwater Authority, the lead agency in developing and managing the plan.

Groundwater levels in the North American Subbasin have been relatively stable since the mid-1990s, according to the plan, thanks in large part to conjunctive use—the coordinated management of surface water and groundwater.

One of the key management actions included in the plan is to enhance the region’s conjunctive use program via the Sacramento Regional Water Bank, which is considered to be a critical strategy to adapting the region’s water supplies to climate change.

The basin has enough available space to fill Folsom Reservoir. During rainy years, when lakes and rivers are full, local water providers use more river water. This allows our groundwater aquifer to recharge. During dry years, they use more groundwater. This leaves more water in rivers to sustain the environment of the Lower American River and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and to help downstream communities.

The plan was developed and approved by five Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs): the Sacramento Groundwater Authority GSA, Sutter County GSA, South Sutter Water District GSA, Reclamation District 1001 GSA and West Placer GSA. The agencies agreed to implement the plan’s provisions in coordination with each other. The plan’s implementation is expected to cost $1.15 million over the next five years with costs split among the GSAs.

For more information on the North American Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan, visit https://nasbgroundwater.org/