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November 13, 2019  |  Written by Richard S. Deitchman

SGMA: State Board to Introduce Streamlined Permitting Process for Groundwater Recharge

The Division of Water Rights will introduce its “Streamlined Processing for Standard Groundwater Recharge Rights” at the regular November 19th meeting of the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board).  The streamlined permitting process is an important component of Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) implementation, as it may assist Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) in more efficiently obtaining the necessary water rights to divert and recharge water during high flow events.  Groundwater recharge is likely to be an important component of many GSA sustainability plans.

According to the State Board, the streamlined process is an administrative adjustment in priorities and policy, and does not require a change in existing law.  The main driver of the anticipated streamlined process includes a simplified water availability analysis, focused on diversion during high flow events during the winter season.  The streamlined process includes all of the same requirements as the standard water right permitting process, including environmental review.  It is anticipated the streamlined permit applicants will have to be willing to accept certain terms and conditions to their right that should either eliminate or minimize the environmental impacts, and impacts to senior water right holders.  The application and annual water right fees for streamlined permits will be lower than standard permit fees.

The streamlined permitting process may be an important management tool for GSAs in various regions looking to improve the groundwater supply or quality.  Nonetheless, the process will be limited to watersheds with available and unappropriated high flows.  In such basins, GSAs should carefully consider this potentially more efficient process.

For more information on SGMA and implementation, please contact Rich Deitchman at (916) 446 7979 or rdeitchman@somachlaw.com.

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