The Agency is also experiencing several uncertainties and associated risks with regards to groundwater management. Several of the groundwater basins withing the Agency’s service area have been over drafted. Problems caused by the overdraft led to a legal judgement entered into in 1993 which developed an agreement to bring basins into sustainable operations. Some groundwater basins in the Agency’s region remain in overdraft conditions with continuing declines of groundwater levels occurring. Visible changes in land uses within the region over recent years, including numerous extensive cannabis grows, appear to be adding water uses, some that may be operating outside the terms of the judgement within the Mojave adjudicated boundary.
The region also continues to balance use of the groundwater basins through groundwater banking projects, while addressing risks to water quality and localized effects on groundwater levels. With a highly unreliable SWP supply, the Agency must be prepared to take advantage of the extreme wet weather flows that may be accessed through the SWP by investing in recharge basins and facilities to needed to convey and store large quantities of water quickly.
Meanwhile, the infrastructure in the region for both use of the groundwater resources as well as replenishment of the groundwater basins is aging, resulting in risks to both maintenance costs and reliability of access. To address the growing risks and uncertainty with the region’s groundwater basin management, the Agency is working to develop an asset management plan including planning for infrastructure maintenance, repair, and replacement. The agency is also working creatively to develop programs that will improve groundwater conditions in our region at the least possible cost.