To Manage California’s Groundwater, Think More About Surface Water
May 1, 2018 at 11:00am
By Ian Evans, Water Deeply
California’s groundwater agencies need to create sustainability plans, says Michael Kiparsky of the University of California Berkeley School of Law, noting that, unless those plans also take surface water into account, they might not work.
California’s 2014 legislation, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was significant in that it was the state’s first major groundwater regulation. But Michael Kiparsky the founding director of the Wheeler Water Institute at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, says that it was also significant in another way.
“It breaks with what had been decades of a legal fiction that groundwater and surface water were not part of a single hydrologic system,” he says.
While rivers, lakes and other surface waters are often thought of – and regulated – separately from the groundwater below, the two are connected. Depleted or polluted groundwater makes for depleted or polluted rivers, and vice versa. SGMA acknowledges this by placing some responsibility for surface water conditions in the hands of local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies which need to adopt a plan by 2020 that will keep their local aquifers sustainable and prevent “significant and unreasonable” impacts on both the groundwater and surface water in the area.
This, says Kiparsky, is a very exciting change, but one that is poorly understood. Many Groundwater Sustainability Agencies are not yet thinking about their own responsibility towards surface water, and not addressing these groundwater-surface water interactions could have significant consequences for how they manage their basin. To help bring these issues to the surface, Kiparsky and his colleagues produced a report on several important questions about how surface water-groundwater interactions affect groundwater management.
Water Deeply spoke with Kiparsky about his report, and about the importance and complexity of groundwater and surface water.
To read the full article, visit their full site here.