More Details on Drought Well Permitting Requirements
April 7, 2022
Last week, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-7-22 to address California’s worsening drought conditions. The Order includes new well permitting requirements for local agencies, and the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released a new fact sheet to assist in implementation.
Under the order, local well permitting agencies retain existing well permitting authorities, including reviewing and administering well permits. However, agencies must take the following steps during the well permitting process for wells intending to extract groundwater:
- Consultation with the GSA – If the proposed well would be in a high or medium priority groundwater basin, the well permitting agency must consult with the groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) and receive written verification from the GSA that the proposed well location is generally consistent (not inconsistent) with the applicable groundwater sustainability plans (GSP) and will not decrease the likelihood of achieving the sustainability goals that the GSAs have developed under Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).
- Permit Evaluation – For every well permit application, the local well permitting agency must determine before issuing a well permit that extraction of groundwater from the proposed well is not likely to interfere with the production and functioning of existing nearby wells and is not likely to cause subsidence that would adversely impact or damage nearby infrastructure.
These requirements do not apply to wells that pump less than 2 acre-feet per year (de minimus users) and wells that exclusively provide groundwater to public water supply systems.
Available State Resources
DWR provides technical and other support services to local agencies to support decision-making. The following resources are available to help local agencies navigate the well permitting requirements in this Drought Executive Order:
- Basin Prioritization Dashboard – Identifies medium and high priority groundwater basins
- GSA Map Viewer – Maps the managing GSA for applicable basins
- GSP Map Viewer – Lists local GSP
- California’s Groundwater Live – Well Infrastructure – Maps existing wells, including dry wells
- California’s Groundwater Live – Groundwater Levels – Tracks groundwater levels and trends
- California’s Groundwater Live – Subsidence Data – Track subsidence data and infrastructure
For more information or questions, please contact DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Office at: SGMPS@water.ca.gov.