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GSP Updates

After Three Years of Drought, 2023 Annual Report Reveals Record Recharge Numbers

2023 was a record water year for the Kings Subbasin! Annual Report data reflects the positive impact of the wet year on the basin’s groundwater levels after three consecutive years of drought, while also indicating there is more work to be done in pursuit of long-term sustainability.

With more surface water available, groundwater use decreased by 54% compared to the average use in the previous three water years. Groundwater storage increased by 1.28 million acre-feet, partially thanks to the recharge projects throughout the Kings Subbasin.

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Kings Subbasin Prepares for 2025 Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) Update

In March 2023, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced the Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) for the Kings Subbasin, which includes MAGSA and 6 other GSAs, were recommended for approval. The Kings Subbasin is working diligently with DWR to report on their progress and include any additional corrective actions recommended by DWR in the 2025 GSP periodic update.

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CA Department of Water Resources Recommends Kings Subbasin GSPs for Approval

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced that the Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) for the Kings Subbasin, which includes the McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA) and 6 other GSAs, are recommended for approval.

“I’m glad our region was compliant and worked hard together to get to this point,” says Don Cameron, Chair of MAGSA’s Board of Directors.

“We’re happy to hear about our current success as a Subbasin!” says Matt Hurley, MAGSA’s General Manager. “The Kings Subbasin is a good group of people to work with and I’m confident we will reach sustainability in a timely manner. I’m also confident MAGSA is on the right path to achieve sustainability for our landowners.”

The Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) is a requirement of the 2014 California law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). A GSP outlines a region’s strategy to achieve groundwater sustainability by 2040. The Kings Subbasin GSAs developed and submitted their initial GSPs to DWR in January 2020. DWR had two years to review the original GSPs. On January 28, 2022, DWR deemed 12 of the 21 critically-over drafted basin GSPs, including the Kings Subbasin GSPs, incomplete.

The Kings Subbasin GSAs, including MAGSA, the North Fork Kings, Kings River East, North Kings, James, South Kings, and Central Kings GSAs, worked diligently and collaboratively to review DWR’s notes on what changes needed to be made. The Kings Subbasin GSAs submitted their revised GSPs in July 2022.

On March 2, 2023, DWR announced which subbasins’ revised GSPs are recommended for approval and which subbasins’ GSPs are inadequate. Subbasins with inadequate GSPs will be transitioning to the State Water Board for State intervention and oversight at this point, with the ultimate goal still being to have all basins return to local management. Subbasins with GSPs recommended for approval adequately refined their sustainable groundwater management criteria and made appropriate corrections to their plans in relation to the analysis of groundwater levels, water quality, and inter-connected surface waters. The Kings Subbasin and other basins with plans recommended for approval will continue to work with DWR to report on their progress and include any additional corrective actions recommended by DWR in the 2025 GSP periodic update.

“This approval is many years in the making and all the hard work has paid off,” says Lynn Groundwater, MAGSA technical consultant and lead author on MAGSA’s GSP. “Now… we can continue to work on filling data gaps and implementing the GSP. Implementation includes design and construction of canals throughout MAGSA to be able to utilize surface water especially in wet years like we are having this year to capture flood water when available.”

MAGSA is deeply thankful for landowner engagement throughout the GSP development and implementation process. Together, we can achieve a sustainable future in our region for generations to come.

Read DWR’s full announcement HERE.

Public comment period on revised Groundwater Sustainability Plans ends September 30

All Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) in the Kings Subbasin, including MAGSA, submitted their revised Groundwater Sustainability Plans to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) by the July 27, 2022 deadline. These plans were posted on the DWR SGMA Portal and are open to public comment through September 30, 2022.

About MAGSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan: MAGSA is authorized by the 2014 California law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), to develop, adopt, and implement a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) for the area it serves. A GSP is a plan outlining a region’s strategy to achieve groundwater sustainability.

The development and implementation of GSPs is a phased, iterative process. It includes key periods where the Plans are reviewed and refined. MAGSA is committed to actively communicating and engaging with stakeholders throughout all phases of this process. Please contact MAGSA with any regional groundwater or GSP-related questions!

Groundwater Sustainability Plan revisions submitted to the State

After extensive coordination between MAGSA and the six other Groundwater Sustainability Agencies in the Kings Subbasin, the revised Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) was submitted to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) on the July 27, 2022 submission deadline. The MAGSA Board approved revisions to its GSP at its July 6th Board Meeting.

The revisions came in response to the incomplete determination of the GSP provided by DWR in January 2022. During their 2-year review period, DWR outlined the GSP improvements GSAs needed to make. Their review initiated a 180-day revision period with a July 27 due date. During this time, MAGSA participated in subbasin-wide coordination and communications with DWR to ensure revisions were on the right track.

The revisions include addressing impacts of groundwater level decline and land subsidence impacts to canals and rivers, clarification of minimum thresholds for wells with water quality already over the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), and a commitment to gather further data on interconnected surface water and groundwater.

The comments provided by DWR and MAGSA’s submitted revisions are an expected part of the iterative SGMA implementation process. MAGSA believes the revisions submitted to the State seriously considered the concerns of the State while keeping our local stakeholders and landowners in mind. 

Board approves Implementing Rules and Regulations and Proposed Fee Schedule for the McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency Groundwater Export Policy

The Board approved the Implementing Rules and Regulations and Proposed Fee Schedule for groundwater exports at the April 6, 2022 Board Meeting. The rules and regulations serve to manage, protect, and sustain groundwater supply for the benefit of local landowners within MAGSA.

The Rules and Regulations provide specific guidance to landowners on the annual permitting process and fees related to groundwater exports extracted from land within MAGSA to any location outside of the agency boundaries.

To view requirements and export fee schedule, review the adopted Implementing Rules and Regulations on here.

Landowners who own parcels located both within and without MAGSA’s boundaries are exempt from groundwater export fees but still require appropriate export permits and reporting. The Rules and Regulations exclude entirely de minimus use (domestic wells), and production of water stored and extracted from the Aquaterra Groundwater Bank project.

MAGSA’s priority continues to be the success of its landowners. Any policies and rules and regulations will continue to be for the betterment of the area by achieving groundwater sustainability through local control under SGMA.

A draft document including an economic analysis was available on MAGSA’s website for public review and comment on December 13, 2021. MAGSA adopted its Groundwater Export Policy on December 9, 2020, providing a framework for pumping groundwater within MAGSA for use outside of the agency. The recently adopted Rules and Regulations and Fee Schedule provide the specific guidelines for implementing that policy.

Kings Subbasin GSAs coordinate in response to DWR’s comments on Groundwater Sustainability Plans

The Kings Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), including MAGSA, are meeting to discuss and respond to the California Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) comments on the subbasin’s Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). 

As the regulating and assisting agency under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), DWR had two years to evaluate the GSPs. The agency submitted its evaluation prior to the January 31, 2022 review deadline, determining the plans to be incomplete. This status was given to all San Joaquin Valley GSPs. DWR’s comments indicate they are looking for further information about the data MAGSA used to establish certain criteria in the GSP along with greater consistency among the subbasin’s GSPs. DWR’s full assessment of the Kings Subbasin GSPs can be accessed here.

The Kings Subbasin GSAs are coordinating on revisions based on DWR’s comments, and each GSA will resubmit their GSP within the mandated 180 days after receiving the comments.  Groundwater is managed locally by MAGSA through policies, programs and projects, but long-term sustainability requires the collaboration of the entire Kings Subbasin. Click here to read more about how the subbasin has already collaborated through investment in 600 acres of prime groundwater recharge land. 


ABOUT THE GSP: MAGSA’s GSP is a roadmap for how the region will avoid negative effects of groundwater overdraft and achieve sustainability by 2040. MAGSA actively sought landowner feedback during GSP development and continues to do so through the Stakeholder Committee and other channels. MAGSA is committed to securing a sustainable groundwater supply through collaboration with landowners and the implementation of innovative recharge projects. To learn more about MAGSA’s GSP, visit the Groundwater Sustainability Portal on the MAGSA website. 

Kings Subbasin Builds for Drought Resilience at Record Pace

15 basins representing 600 acres of prime groundwater recharge land with a singular goal of groundwater sustainability

Click here to view the StoryMap outlining project details, locations, and more, and to view the highlight video.

In the short span of two years, the Kings Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agencies have invested in 600 acres of prime groundwater recharge land. This land represents 15 dedicated basins that are constructed or in development.

Local water managers have taken the long view as they invest in infrastructure now with the goal to bring sustainability to the groundwater supply shared by all within the Kings Subbasin region.

The additional water infrastructure is anticipated to provide over 15,000 acre-feet of recharge per year on average, directly benefitting groundwater levels for communities and ag lands in the area. An acre foot equals 325,900 gallons, or enough water to cover a football field to a depth of one foot.

Since the Kings Subbasin submitted seven Groundwater Sustainability Plan Plans (GSP) in January 2020, there has been a driven effort to successfully build groundwater recharge capacity to support Kings Subbasin sustainability goals.

Full details of the Subbasin’s efforts are outlined in a StoryMap and video here.

Groundwater in MAGSA: Annual Report Update

The McMullin Area GSA (MAGSA) together with the six other GSAs in the Kings Subbasin submitted the second Annual Report to the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR) by the April 1, 2021 deadline.  MAGSA took every opportunity in Water Year 2020 (Sept 2019 – Oct 2020) to begin work on projects that will lead to a sustainable groundwater supply for its landowners and for the region, leveraging grant funds to begin implementing key projects in its Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). Although the report indicates dryer conditions put a strain on groundwater supplies across the Kings Subbasin, the ongoing efforts of MAGSA and the collective work of the Kings Subbasin GSAs will ultimately lead to long-term sustainability.

The Annual Report provides an overview of groundwater conditions in the region including groundwater extraction, surface water supply used for groundwater recharge, total water use, change in groundwater storage, and a description of progress made toward implementing the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) since the last Annual Report.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to submit annual reports to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) on April 1 of every year.

Here are highlights from the Kings Subbasin’s 2020 Water Year:

Water years 2017-2019 were overall wetter than average but were preceded by an extremely dry period.  Overall, the last five years result in near average conditions, but they include an extreme dry and an extreme wet year.

Water use for Water Year 2020 consisted of 1,353,000 acre-feet of groundwater and 958,000 of surface water. Total water use for Water Year 2020 (WY 2020) equaled 2,311,000 acre-feet, with 2,011,000 acre-feet of the total used for agricultural purposes and 300,000 for urban use.

GSAs have identified different data gaps within their GSPs that they intend to fill and are still reviewing their monitoring networks.  During this water year, the GSAs have spent significant effort to gather construction information on wells through video equipment. As construction information is gathered, updates will be made through the SGMA monitoring network portal.  Work will continue into the 2021 water year to gather the remaining construction information for wells in the water level monitoring network. MAGSA’s Groundwater Monitoring Project and metering incentive program are important projects that will help to achieve this goal in the region.

Click HERE to read full Annual Report.

The Kings Subbasin saw improvements in groundwater storage in the 2019 water year, but 2020’s reduction  illustrates the importance of continuing to coordinate with the Kings Subbasin GSAs and engage with MAGSA landowners  to implement innovative projects that will lead to a sustainable and resilient, groundwater supply  for the region.

One such project is the MAGSA Groundwater Monitoring Project funded by a $75,000 Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART Small Scale Grant.  Under this grant, MAGSA has teamed with the McCrometer Company to install totalizing flowmeters, pressure transducers and remote telemetry units on each of the twenty-three representative indicator monitoring wells located within the MAGSA boundary. These wells are part of the basin-wide indicator monitoring network. The data collected from these wells will be remotely communicated, downloaded into a data management system, and allow for accurate and efficient logging of required SGMA reporting information. 

In addition to monitoring groundwater, MAGSA is working to recharge groundwater levels in the region. MAGSA’s  On-Farm Recharge (OFR) project is the first-of-its-kind in the nation. Leveraging $22 million in grant funds, the project involves constructing infrastructure to capture storm and flood waters and then conveying the water to farmland. The project will also build partnerships with farmers and landowners to capture surface water for groundwater recharge on those farmlands. This project, in partnership with the work carried out through Raisin City Water District’s 2018 Natural resources Conservation Services- Regional Conservation Partnership Program (NRCS-RCPP) award, will significantly offset groundwater overdraft for the entire Kings Subbasin.

Another important project that will further groundwater sustainability in the region is the Aquaterra Water Bank project. Preliminary work on a water bank project in MAGSA began in 2020 and will continue into 2021. Located between the Kings and San Joaquin rivers, MAGSA provides an ideal location for the Aquaterra Water Bank project. Water from multiple major water systems will be delivered via new and existing channels and pump stations for recharge and storage within the Aquaterra Water Bank. In drier years, MAGSA will work with project participants to schedule extraction and return water based on participants’ share of extraction capacity and available operational exchange and delivery capability. This project will improve sustainability of local groundwater supply to help the subbasin achieve its sustainability goals while increasing resiliency and flexibility for water suppliers across the State.

Finally, MAGSA is developing a metering incentive program to incentivize early placement of flow meters, pressure transducers, and remote telemetry to comply with the metering policy and accomplish reliable extraction data at the earliest possible time. To express interest in MAGSA’s meter incentive program click HERE!

We are on the road to sustainability, and we need the contribution of our incredible landowners and stakeholders to continue reaching our goals. To receive regular updates on these projects and groundwater conditions in the region, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our E-Updates. Click HERE learn more about how you can get involved with MAGSA this year!

Third water market study workshop will focus on market structure

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to participate in a MAGSA water market, join us for the January 27th water market study workshop. Landowners and interested stakeholders are encouraged to participate in this interactive workshop via Zoom.

Participants will hear from MAGSA’s General Manager, Matt Hurley, and the technical consulting team, who will present a project update as well as a couple of alternate scenarios describing how the market could be structured. The workshop will include a demonstration illustrating the differences between a “bulletin board” and “electronic clearinghouse” structure. Participants will have an opportunity to offer feedback on the market structure concepts as well as ask other questions regarding the study, which is currently underway.

The workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, January 27, 2021 from 4:00 – 6:00 PM. If you are interested in attending, watch this space or sign up for updates here. The workshop is part of a water market study funded through a WaterSMART grant awarded to MAGSA by the US Bureau of Reclamation.

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