Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

What is the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)?

In September 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown enacted legislation that sets forth a path to create local agencies to sustainably manage the state’s groundwater resources. This initiative, known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, shifts planning and management of groundwater resources to newly formed Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, made up of local agencies (cities, counties, water districts) and requires development of Groundwater Sustainability Plans by 2020 for priority basins. The state designated Salinas Valley as a priority basin.

For more information on SGMA, visit

Map of Monterey County Groundwater Basins

Map of the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin

How does a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) form?

View factsheets:

The first step in SGMA implementation was to form a Groundwater Sustainability Agency by June 30, 2017. Under SGMA, an agency or combination of local agencies may form a GSA by using any of the following methods: a joint powers authority (JPA) agreement, or a memorandum of agreement (MOU) or other legal agreement.

From 2015 to 2017, stakeholders in the Salinas Valley worked collaboratively to develop recommendations on formation of the Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (SVBGSA) as a joint powers authority.

What entities are eligible to serve as a GSA?

SGMA provides that a local agency, a combination of local agencies, or a county may establish a GSA. Specifically, a local agency is defined as any local public entity that has water supply, water management, or land use responsibilities within a groundwater basin. In short, any local agency or combination of local agencies overlying a groundwater basin can elect to be a GSA. A water corporation regulated by the Public Utilities Commission or a mutual water company may participate in a GSA through a memorandum of agreement or other legal agreement. Non-agency parties can be incorporated into the decision-making process for the GSA through advisory bodies or by creating special provisions in the legal formation.

View the list of GSA-eligible agencies in the Salinas Valley [English | Spanish]

Visit the Department of Water Resources website for more information on GSAs.