Business Law

Business Law News 2018, Issue 2

New Rules of Groundwater Management in California: A Primer on California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014

Derek R. Hoffman, Esq.

Derek R. Hoffman, Esq. specializes in California water law. He represents a wide variety of clients in obtaining, evaluating, protecting, and litigating water rights and resources. His practice includes guiding clients through the implementation of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and other state and federal natural resources laws and regulations. For more information on Derek, visit www.greshamsavage. com.

I. Introduction

For well over 150 years, California did not have a statewide regulatory process to manage the state’s groundwater resources. Whereas surface water rights have been regulated since 1914 pursuant to a licensing and permitting system administered by the agency now known as the State Water Resources Control Board1("State Water Board"), groundwater regulation was traditionally managed locally, if at all, through county ordinances or through the courts in complex ground-water adjudications that often involved hundreds of parties and lasted well over a decade.2 To incentivize local agencies to work cooperatively to manage groundwater resources within their jurisdictions, the California Legislature added provisions to the California Water Code in 1992 that encouraged3—but did not require4—local public agencies to adopt groundwater management plans and programs.5

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