701 N Del Norte Blvd #310 Oxnard
Groundwater is essential to meet California’s consumptive and environmental water needs. In dry years, as much as forty-five percent of the state’s total consumptive water use is satisfied by groundwater. Groundwater overdraft, land subsidence, water quality degradation, and seawater intrusion are major groundwater problems that occur in certain regions of the state and present challenges to sustainable groundwater management. Effective groundwater legal systems are essential to address these problems and manage groundwater sustainably. Groundwater use has been managed and regulated historically based on real property concepts under the correlative rights doctrine. This form of groundwater management has resulted in the adjudication of the groundwater rights in some groundwater basins, and has provided a management tool for these basins. In 2014 California adopted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which confers significant authority to local agencies. SGMA implementation will ultimately have to rely on sound groundwater legal systems to achieve its sustainability goals. Some aspects of the groundwater legal systems do not accurately reflect the physical environment, posing challenges for effective groundwater management. For instance, groundwater law developed independently of surface water rights laws, and does not fully reflect the interconnection between groundwater and surface waters. Likewise, groundwater legal systems have failed to adequately model how groundwater quality may be impaired in the environment or in some cases have exempted groundwater degradation from regulation all together.
This presentation will review groundwater legal systems, describing areas where they do not accurately reflect the physical environment and pose problems for effective groundwater management. The presentation will propose changes to groundwater legal systems that better reflect the physical environment with the goal of improved groundwater management.
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