What is SGMA?

The California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”) is a package of three bills (Assembly Bill 1739, Senate Bill 1168 and Senate Bill 1319) that were passed by State legislature and signed by the Governor in 2014.  SGMA’s intent is to mandate that groundwater basins throughout the State are managed in a manner that provides long-term stability in groundwater levels while not degrading water quality or creating unreasonable land subsidence.  In the California Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) Bulletin 118, 515 groundwater basins and subbasins were identified and associated boundaries for each were defined.  Additionally, DWR analyzed the current groundwater conditions in each subbasin and determined which basins were in need of remedial actions to obtain a state of sustainability.  This resulted in DWR’s rating of each basin with either a high, medium, or low-priority status designation, with a high-priority status resulting in the need for immediate action.


The overall intent of SGMA is for a local public agency to become a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (“GSA”) over each basin or subbasin described in Bulletin 118.  Under SGMA, a GSA is then obligated to develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (“GSP”) that provides a roadmap for managing each such basin on a sustainable basis.  The timing of development and implementation of the GSPs is a function of the priority status.


SGMA defines sustainable groundwater management as the “management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without causing “undesirable results”. Undesirable results are defined in SGMA and summarized as any of the following effects caused by groundwater conditions occurring throughout the basin:

  • Chronic lowering of groundwater levels indicating a significant and unreasonable depletion of supply
  • Significant and unreasonable reduction of groundwater storage
  • Significant and unreasonable seawater intrusion
  • Significant and unreasonable degraded water quality
  • Significant and unreasonable land subsidence
  • Surface water depletions that have significant and unreasonable adverse impacts on beneficial uses of the surface water


SGMA and the Southwest Kings GSA

Due to the poor yield and poor quality of the groundwater within the Southwest Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency (“SWKGSA”), only a minimal quantity of groundwater is pumped within the SWKGSA and sustaining groundwater levels, water quality, and subsidence at current levels is already being attained. However, because the SWKGSA is located within the Tulare Lake Subbasin (which is categorized as a high priority basin), all lands within the Tulare Lake Subbasin are required to comply with SGMA. Since the subbasin is high priority, the SWKGSA must file to become a GSA and develop and implement a GSP in order to comply with SGMA requirements.  The deadline to establish GSAs for all high and medium priority basins is June 2017. Once the GSAs are established, the high and medium priority basins must be managed under a GSP by January 2020 as the roadmap to achieve sustainable groundwater management within a 20-year timeframe.


SWKGSA Information



Board of Directors

John Vidovich, Chair, Dudley Ridge Water District

Vacant, Secretary-Treasurer

Vacant, Dudley Ridge Water District

Carlo Wilcox, Tulare Lake Reclamation District
No. 761

Jim Wilson, Tulare Lake Reclamation District
No. 761

Michael Nordstrom, representing the White Area


Alternate Directors

Bernard Puget, Dudley Ridge Water District


GSA Members

Dudley Ridge Water District

Tulare Lake Reclamation District No. 761

Kettleman City Community Services District

Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District

County of Kings

© Southwest Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency