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Building a Sustainable Groundwater Future in the SLO Basin

During a normal year, nearly 40 percent of California’s agricultural and urban water demand is met by the use of groundwater, which has resulted in declining groundwater levels in some groundwater basins throughout California. In an effort to ensure the sustainable use of California’s groundwater and a water-secure future for the State, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was signed into law in 2014. The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) prioritized 515 groundwater basins in California into one of four categories; high, medium, low or very low priority based on a set of criteria.

SGMA is a State law that requires local governments and water agencies that overlie high and medium priority basins to form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) for the purpose of sustainably managing the groundwater basins. Locally, the San Luis Obispo Valley Groundwater Basin (SLO Basin) has been identified as a high priority basin by the State. Therefore, to meet SGMA requirements, the County of San Luis Obispo (County) and the City of San Luis Obispo (City) each formed a GSA. These two GSAs are the governmental entities tasked with developing and implementing the SLO Basin’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP).

Although the GSAs were formed by the two local public agencies, representatives of the Golden State Water Company, Edna Ranch Mutual Water Company, Varian Ranch Mutual Water Company, and Edna Valley Growers Mutual Water Company were engaged in developing a governance structure. In addition to the formation of the two GSAs, a Groundwater Sustainability Commission (GSC) — an advisory body to the GSAs — was established through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the GSAs and the above participating parties, and the terms under which the City GSA and County GSA will jointly develop a single GSP in coordination with the GSC.

GSP development recently began and will continue through January 2022. All interested stakeholders and members of the public are encouraged to participate to help guide the GSP development process. Visit for details on how you can participate in this important process.

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