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Groundwater Sustainability Plans – Merced Subbasin and Cuyama Basin

In 2014, the state of California adopted historic groundwater legislation known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). SGMA requires that basins be managed by local agencies to achieve sustainable conditions or risk state involvement. This is done through development of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). Catalyst is among those at the forefront in implementing this historic legislation. 

Catalyst is managing outreach and facilitation for development of GSPs in the Merced Subbasin and Quyama Basin in Central California. At the core, GSP development is a process to manage water resources planning for a frequently scarce resource where agricultural, business, community, economic, environmental and social needs are all in play and often in competition. This process must pass muster under demanding statutory and regulatory requirements that also bestow much local discretion. For both projects, Catalyst developed the planning roadmap for GSP development, identified Board and advisory committee milestones, and community engagement opportunities. 

While SGMA requires a great deal of technical planning, successful implementation also requires developing understanding and collaboration among the many interests in a basin. Catalyst’s work in both basins has involved partnering with local and regional organizations and engaging and building trust among farmers, disadvantaged communities, and non-English speaking populations in both basins. 

The work has involved the nimble exercise of recognizing and accommodating diverse needs and concerns about groundwater management within a new and untested legal framework.