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State to local water agencies: fix your groundwater sustainability plans, and quickly

Westlands Water District website
Westlands Water District, the largest irrigation district in the country, is in charge of the Westside Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency.

Local agencies charged with managing groundwater in the coming decades have until January to re-submit their sustainability plans to the state for review.

If you don’t work in agriculture, “groundwater sustainability” may sound like an abstract issue. But in a series of recent letters from the state Department of Water Resources to local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, which are run primarily by representatives of farms and irrigation districts, one key message was that they need to consider non-ag interests, like drinking water and sinking land, when making groundwater plans for the future.

In this interview, Valley Edition host Kathleen Schock interviews KVPR reporter Kerry Klein about these letters and the latest in the rollout of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The conversation features excerpts of conversations with Paul Gosselin, Deputy Director of Sustainable Groundwater Management with the Department of Water Resources; Shelley Cartwright, Deputy General Manager of Westlands Water District; and Amanda Monaco, a Policy Coordinator with the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.