GRA Sac Valley Branch: The Disconnect Between Groundwater Legal Systems and Groundwater Hydrology

April 17, 2019 @ 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Panighetti's Eatery
1851 Esplanade Chico
CA 95926

The Disconnect Between Groundwater Legal Systems and Groundwater Hydrology: What Changes Should Be Made to Groundwater Law to Better Reflect the Physical Environment?

David Sandino, ESQ.

Past Chief Counsel for the California Department
of Water Resources (DWR)

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 in the state, mostly in Southern California, and has provided a management tool for these basins.

However, it has not proven to be an effective method in all regions of the state. Unlike most other states, California does not have a statewide regulatory system for groundwater. Instead, in 2014 California adopted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which confers significant authority to local agencies to sustainably manage groundwater basins through planning and implementation. SGMA implementation has started and 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.

For more information and to register, click here.  You do not have to be a member to attend.