The Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the Santa Margarita Groundwater Basin has been approved, a key step in the process of achieving long-term groundwater sustainability in the region by 2042.

The Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency (SMGWA) adopted the GSP in 2021 and submitted it to DWR for review. The GSP will guide long-term management of the groundwater basin to ensure a reliable and resilient water supply for community needs and the environment.

Work to achieve groundwater sustainability is well underway. The SMGWA and its member agencies are implementing projects and management actions to improve conditions in the Basin and utilizing an extensive monitoring network to track conditions in the Basin. Each April, the Agency issues an Annual Report on Basin conditions.

“The State approval of our GSP shows the years of hard work by the community, and demonstrates that forward-looking cooperation is the right path for our water supply and environment,” said SMGWA Board Chair Chris Perri. “The work is not done, but it’s exciting to know we are making strong progress and have the support of DWR as we move forward together.”

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 set forth a statewide regulatory framework for improving the long-term management of our vital groundwater resources. The Act required the formation of local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) that are now in place throughout the state to develop and implement GSPs to manage groundwater so as to achieve sustainability in a 20-year planning horizon and maintain sustainability over a 50-year implementation horizon. The Act also allows for state intervention if local management efforts are unsuccessful.

SMGWA is the local GSA responsible for developing, adopting and submitting a GSP for the Basin. The Basin is a source of water for Scotts Valley Water District, San Lorenzo Valley Water District, over a dozen small water systems and approximately 1,100 private domestic wells. Additionally, the groundwater table influences surface water flow in the San Lorenzo River, which is a primary water source for the San Lorenzo Valley and the City of Santa Cruz, and supports important environmental habitat.

With input from community members, and groundwater scientists, the SMGWA developed a GSP with locally defined sustainability goals. The GSP lays out a roadmap to achieve groundwater sustainability by 2042 per state requirements, taking into consideration endangered species and groundwater-dependent ecosystems. This includes measurable criteria to evaluate the condition of the Basin and the potential strategies to ensure sustainability. The GSP provides the basis for ongoing local management of the Basin by SMGWA.

In 2027, the SMGWA will submit its first 5-year assessment of Plan implementation to DWR.

For more information, visit the California Department of Water Resources SGMA website.