SGMA Policy Analysis


The state of California would not have achieved its current powerhouse status in the absence of groundwater. The Southern California part is most affected as it is riddled with a semi-arid climate that does not provide enough rainwater. Consequently, the state has depended on the drilling of underground water resources in supporting the agricultural sector as well as urban development. In addition, although most of the water is produced in North California, a huge chunk of the water is used in Southern California where most of the families live. About 45% of the water used in California is sourced from groundwater with the percentage increasing significantly during dry years (Weatherford et al., 2009). Normally, the state is faced with drought resulting into the strapping of river and creek reservoirs. Communities in the South are mostly reliant on groundwater for the sustenance of their subsistence livelihoods. This overreliance on groundwater has its share of negative implications especially regarding management of groundwater resources. The development of more efficient machinery compounded the state to the faster extraction of water resulting in the sinking and subsiding of the ground. Following these problems of non-sustainability, the state developed regulations to monitor and guide the extraction of groundwater in Southern California. The goal of this policy was to reduce the overreliance on groundwater thus safeguard the lives of millions of people that were in danger of calamities.

Following the unsustainable extraction of groundwater resources in Southern California, the state developed the SGM Act to tackle the problem. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014 is designed to regulate the extraction and recharge of underground water in California. Its enactment was motivated by reports that the state had lost enough water to fill a lake between 2004 and 2009 (Hanak, 2011). The intention of the policy is to develop and implement local and regional sustainable groundwater plans. In addition, the state is required to adopt an interim groundwater management plan to guide the development and implementation of both local and regional agencies. The implementation of the Act follows the presumption that water management is best achieved locally. This paper undertakes to review existing literature in understanding the problem as well as the policy proposed to solve the problem. Also, it will explore the motives of the enactment and implementation processes while expounding on the particular impacts on the normal livelihoods of the people of Southern California. Ultimately, the nexus between the problem and the policy is identified with a focus on the success of the policy in addressing the cited problems. Finally, recommendations for further improvement are provided based on the findings of the review.


Problem Analysis

Southern California faces the problem of unsustainable extraction of water within the different counties, cities and districts. Consequently, every county has different water requirements and the extraction of groundwater is, therefore, dependent on the reservoirs as well as the water requirements.  The problem of drought within Southern California is also a problem that has affected the state’s water extraction. During droughts, the overreliance on groundwater is increased thus resulting in sinking and subsiding of different parts of the state. It has been estimated that groundwater currently serves 65% of the state’s water problems. Prior to the enactment of the Act, the state had no control over the extraction of groundwater resulting in the over extraction of the resource. The result of this over-exploitation is a sinking state as evidenced by the Central Valley. One farmer within this area has recorded a sinking rate of about 18 inches in one year to fill the drained aquifers. Over drafting of underground water has increased steadily over the years with a total of 2200000-acre feet over d

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