SGMA Resources for Growers & Landowners

SGMA Road Map infographic

*Infographic by California Farm Bureau Federation, SGMA Road to Sustainability:

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) became law on January 1, 2015, forever changing the manner in which groundwater will be managed in California. It requires local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to be formed and Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) to be prepared in order to achieve sustainable groundwater management within 20 years of adopting a GSP.

  • Adjudicated Areas: Where disputes over legal rights to groundwater have resulted in a court-issued ruling (known as an adjudication). Adjudications can cover an entire basin, a portion of a basin, or a group of basins.
  • Basin Prioritization: Classification of California’s 517 groundwater basins and subbasins into priorities based primarily on the importance of groundwater to the area. The priority of basins and subbasins determines the schedule for completing GSPs and whether SGMA provisions apply in a given basin. High- and medium-priority basins must comply with SGMA.
  • Best Management Practices (BMPs): Practices designed to help achieve sustainable groundwater management. BMPs are intended to be effective, practical, and based on best available science.
  • Bulletin 118: A California Department of Water Resources (DWR) document outlining the locations and characteristics of groundwater basins in California.
  • Critically Overdrafted: Basins and subbasins identified by DWR to be subject to conditions of critical overdraft. GSPs are due in 2020.
  • Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA): One or more local agencies that implement the provisions of SGMA.
  • Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP): A local plan proposed by a GSA and approved by the state.
  • Measurable Objectives: Conditions linked to the sustainability goals of the GSP, to be achieved in the basin within 20 years.
  • Sustainability Goals: Metrics established in the GSP planning process to ensure that a basin is operated within its sustainable yield.
  • Sustainable Yield: The amount of water that can be extracted from a basin without causing problems to the groundwater basin. See undesirable results on the “Why SGMA?” page 4 of the SGMA: Understanding the Law document.
  • Undesirable Results: The problems that SGMA strives to solve or prevent. See undesirable results on the “Why SGMA?” page 4 of the SGMA: Understanding the Law document.
  • Water Budget: An estimated accounting of all the water (surface and groundwater) that flows into and out of a basin.