The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014: A Comparative Analysis of Alternative Management Plans and Adjudications

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The confluence of an antiquated water rights system, unpredictable supply, and political intervention fostered legislation that became known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014. The trio of legislation signed into law on September 16, 2014, by Governor Jerry Brown revolutionized an entrenched and fiercely independent management of California’s groundwater. The last western state to adopt comprehensive groundwater management, California was reeling from an epic drought that found many areas without water. Political pressure paved the way for overwhelming support for groundwater governance. Groundwater resources, typically 40% of the annual water supply swelled to 60% during the drought. Excessive pumping of the ungoverned resource in some areas caused wells to go dry, streams and habitats to suffer, and water quality to degrade. The legislation included AB 1739 (Dickinson), SB 1168 (Pavley), and SB 1319 (Pavley), which set forth the framework for groundwater governance highlighted by an historic drought beginning in 2012 and concluding in 2015, 1 year after the legislation was signed into law. The study evaluates the compliance of 2 groundwater groups: Adjudicated groundwater basins and users submitted an alternative management plan attesting to sustainable actions that comply with the new law.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Public Administration
Public Administration, Public Policy