Author: Cristel Tufenkjian

MAGSA First to Release Groundwater Sustainability Plan in the Kings Subbasin

At the July Board Meeting, the McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA) Board approved opening the draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) 90-day public review and comment period. First in the Kings Subbasin to release a full draft GSP, MAGSA staff and consultants are intent to allow ample time to consider comments and make any necessary revisions to the draft prior to submittal to the State by the January 31, 2020 deadline.

MAGSA’s consultant Provost & Pritchard provided the Board with an overview of the GSP, which lays out MAGSA’s historical and current groundwater conditions providing a snapshot of where MAGSA will start in 2020. MAGSA’s Board is proposing a phased approach over 20 years to mitigate the target overdraft of 91,100 acre-feet per year, which is MAGSA’s allocation of the Kings Subbasin 122,000 acre feet per year overdraft.

MAGSA’s GSP is a roadmap for how to achieve balanced levels of groundwater supply and defines a path forward for groundwater sustainability. The GSP does not propose starting off with pumping restrictions, change of cropping patterns, land use conversion, or fallowing of land. The first of the management actions is to develop water supplies. Another immediate implementation action is to fill data gaps to have a more comprehensive and accurate picture of groundwater conditions.

The MAGSA Board and staff have welcomed broad public participation in the development of the draft GSP over the last two years, holding numerous public GSP technical update meetings to provide an in-depth look at GSP progress. Technical consultants and the Board consistently present the opportunity for members of the public to provide guiding feedback on the GSP’s components during Board Meetings. MAGSA hopes to continue this trend of public participation through the official 90-day public review and comment period.

Members of the public are invited to take part in this important process by reviewing a copy of the GSP document, available for download on MAGSA’s website at mcmullinarea.org/gspcomment, and submitting comments. The review period will conclude at the MAGSA Public Hearing set to take place Wednesday, October 16th at 2:10 pm at the Kerman Community Center.


Click below to download the GSP, and to find more information regarding the Public Review period.

Ready to comment? Click below to access our online comment form:

Board Continues Current $19 Fee

At its recent July 10th Board meeting, the McMullin Area GSA Board approved the continuation of the currently assessed $19.00 per acre property-related fee for fiscal year 2019-20. Based on assessable acreage of 114,475, this generates a projected revenue of $2,175,025. This amount covers the July 1 – June 30 fiscal year budget of $1,891,600, which is the amount approved by MAGSA landowners in the fee election passed in 2018. Also included in the budget is a contingency/reserve fund in the amount of $283,700.

At the same meeting, the Board also released for immediate public review the draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the McMullin area.  With this milestone release, General Manager Matt Hurley noted MAGSA will begin focusing upon transitioning from the planning phase into implementation phase of local groundwater management in early 2020. Hurley stated that by mid-year 2020, there will be a more clear understanding of the requirements and specifics related to SGMA implementation detail, thus allowing for an updated look at the budget needs for the following fiscal year. Based upon the near term expectations for costs that may arise with this new and complex regulation, the Board supported the recommendation to maintain the $19.00 rate for the upcoming fiscal year 2019-20.

Public Hearing October 16, 2019 at 2:10 pm

The Board has set a Public Hearing for October 16, 2019, at 2:10 P.M. for formal consideration for adoption of the draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan. The Public Hearing will take place at the Kerman Community Center, 15101 W Kearney Blvd., Kerman, CA 93630.

Maintaining Status Quo for Water Quality is the Objective

Monitoring groundwater conditions is critical to successfully implement SGMA. Monitoring requires knowing the current groundwater conditions and then checking them regularly to see if conditions have changed. It is similar to regular checkups with your doctor to make sure you are in good health or if there are any changes that may cause concern. With the goal of being sustainable by 2040, checking in regularly on the “health” of the groundwater gives the MAGSA Board an indication whether conditions are okay are if adjustments need to be made. 

At the June 5 technical update, MAGSA’s technical consultant, Provost & Pritchard, presented information on water quality monitoring, one of the six criteria under SGMA that must be monitored. Research and analysis of water quality data shows MAGSA is currently not subject to any chronic drinking water issues.  Based on this analysis of current groundwater conditions, the objective to be sustainable is to maintain the status quo for water quality.

MAGSA will use data provided by GAMA (Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment Program) to monitor and record groundwater quality on an annual basis. GAMA is an online tool provided by the State Water Resources Control Board. GAMA integrates and displays groundwater quality data from several different sources on an interactive map. Analytical tools and reporting features help users assess groundwater quality and identify potential groundwater issues.

Several contaminants listed by GAMA were identified as being present in various locations within MAGSA but not at levels to cause health concerns. The contaminants include nitrates, 123TCP (trichloropropane), DBCP (1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane), arsenic, chloride, sodium, manganese, and total dissolved solids. These will be monitored going forward to make sure levels stay within the standards set by the government for drinking water quality.

Water Quality Monitoring Wells

Board Meeting July 10, 2019 at 10:30 am

The McMullin Area GSA Board Meeting has been rescheduled to Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at 10:30 am.

Please note Board will not meet at it’s regular location. This July 10th meeting will take place at the Kerman School District Staff Development Center, 15085 West D Street, Kerman (2 blocks south of the Community Center behind Reno’s).

Water and Money…and the MAGSA Water Budget

As anyone who pays for groceries, rent, equipment, labor, utilities, etc. knows, it is much more effective to work with a budget so that the expenses can be planned for and “covered” as appropriate when the piper calls. The income side needs to be accounted for in advance of the payments side to avoid writing rubber checks and paying “overdraft charges” or, ultimately, getting services reduced or cut off.

Groundwater management is set up in much the same manner (interesting that the water world refers to extraction greater than what is supportable as “overdraft”).  Each basin/Subbasin/GSA (Groundwater Sustainability Agency) area must assess the amounts and types of water coming into the area before the determination can be made as to what can support what is expected to be needed to cover the extractions.  As in either equation, expenses (or extractions) in excess of income (water inflow or import) will result in the “accounts” being in the red or in “overdraft.” 

In recognition of these parallels, the SGMA legislation requires the GSA to do the math on an annual basis to check the status of the “checkbook” balance as far as water is concerned.  What we are all seeking, of course, is the checkbook being balanced, thereby avoiding the negative impacts of miscalculation.  Unfortunately, groundwater is considerably more difficult to account for, so one of the continuous and continuing efforts which the GSA will be pursuing is the better understanding of our account balances so we can achieve real, verifiable balance at the earliest possible time.

At the last GSP (Groundwater Sustainability Plan) update, Lynn Groundwater from Provost and Pritchard walked the group through the range of somewhat limited knowledge currently available to us.  One method of analysis, using groundwater contour maps, shows our negative balance to be 18,000 acre-feet.  Another method, using ET (evapotranspiration) estimates and crop patterns, shows a deficit of 79,000 acre-feet.  The difference, or “gap” will need to be narrowed over the next twenty years as we gather additional measurements and other data necessary to clarify the actual “overdraft.”

In the meantime, MAGSA intends to focus its efforts heavily on the possibilities for additional supply side (income) to better offset the anticipated deficits currently anticipated.  We will look for additional water to offset the demands before having to cut back on the pumping (check writing).  Balance is, and shall continue to be, the goal.  We will do what any business person does, continue to adjust the income and expense (inflow and outflow) to ultimately achieve that balance!

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Questions navigating the GSP?Attend upcoming Office Hours

The Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) outlines how groundwater will be managed beginning in 2020. Groundwater sustainability experts will be available to answer your questions at our upcoming Office Hours chat. 

GSP Office Hours Chat 

Wednesday, September 18th from 11:00 am-1:00 pm 

Click button below for  more info.