The Key Well level is critical to groundwater management goals. Computer modeling of the Main San Gabriel Basin shows that if the Key Well level falls to the 165-foot range, many production wells may be adversely impacted. The goal is to keep the Key Well level above 180 feet and, ultimately, back into the operating range — keeping producers in the best position to pump the most economical water source.
To accomplish the goal of maintaining a healthy Key Well level, the Main San Gabriel Water Master implemented a plan to pre-purchase imported supplies of water when available through a Resource Development Assessment, paid by the producers. Since the 2011 drought that ended in 2016, the Watermaster has secured more than 627,000 acre-feet of RDA water and imported untreated water, bolstering the Key Well elevation by about 78 feet.
Drought increases the challenge of maintaining Key Well levels in the groundwater basin at a “safe” level because less water is available from local stormwater replenishment sources, and imported water is becoming scarce as well. With California facing its most severe drought on record, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order (N-7-22) on March 28, 2022.
The EO directed the State Water Resource Control Board (SWRCB) to consider adopting emergency regulations including the requirement that urban water suppliers implement, at a minimum, water shortage response actions reflective of a water shortage level of up to 20% by May 25, 2022.
On April 26, 2022, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) Board of Directors voted unanimously to declare a water shortage emergency and implement an emergency water conservation program for areas of Southern California that rely on Northern California as a source of imported water, including the San Gabriel Valley. The MWD’s Board called upon all its member agencies to make operational changes to reduce reliance on the State Water Project (SWP), which conveys Northern California supplies. The MWD board also called for immediate compliance by impacted member agencies with conservation requirements, efficiency measures and limitations in accordance with water shortage contingency plans. MWD further implemented an Emergency Water Conservation Program that provides two pathways for affected member agencies. These include either restricting outdoor irrigation to one day per week beginning June 1, 2022 or complying with monthly allocation limits subject to penalties. Water suppliers in the Valley are complying with plans being implemented by their respective MWD member agencies.
For example, on May 10, 2022, the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District (USGVMWD) adopted an Emergency Water Conservation Program applicable to 18 cities and 22 water retailers in the Valley, including San Gabriel’s Los Angeles County Division. USGVMWD’s Emergency Water Conservation Program calls for reductions in water use by 20%, and limits outdoor irrigation to two days per week for its retail member agencies.
Meanwhile, the Three Valleys Municipal Water District (TVMWD), which is also an MWD member agency, chose to implement a Level 5 Water Shortage Contingency Plan (WSCP) urging up to a 50% reduction in water use in areas that are impacted.
On May 24, 2022, the SWRCB adopted emergency water conservation regulations, effective June 10, 2022, requiring San Gabriel Valley water suppliers and those around the State to implement Level 2 demand reduction actions described in their Water Shortage Contingency Plans on file with the Department of Water Resources, and prohibiting the use of potable water for irrigating non-functional turf at commercial, industrial and institutional sites. Level 2 actions are meant to achieve a reduction in water demands of up to 20% by limiting, among other things, the irrigation of landscapes with potable water.
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
On September 16, 2014, former Gov. Jerry Brown signed a package of bills into law that together are known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). SGMA created a framework for the long-term protection of California’s groundwater resources via groundwater sustainability plans meant to mitigate overdrafting of groundwater.
SGVWA follows developments on SGMA to assure that any proposed legislation or regulations on matters that overlap with our adjudicated basin are proactively addressed.
Most recently, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) issued information regarding tools, guidelines, available assistance and background on the program.
Resource links for additional information: