Alternative Plan Update

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires GSAs in medium- or high-priority groundwater basins to have an approved Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) or Alternative Plan to manage the basin. The Indio Subbasin, which was designated as medium-priority by the State of California, is unique in that it is one of only nine subbasins throughout the State with an approved Alternative Plan. SGMA also requires that a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) or Agencies be established to develop and implement the plan. In the Indio Subbasin, Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD), Desert Water Agency (DWA), Coachella Water Authority (CWA), and Indio Water Authority (IWA) are working together as the GSA Management Committee (see Home > Management Committee page) to prepare an update to their approved Alternative Plan to manage the basin.

Overview of Alternative Plan

Twenty years before the adoption of SGMA, CVWD in collaboration with local stakeholders began development of the 2002 Coachella Valley Water Management Plan to address groundwater sustainability in the Subbasin. The 2002 plan was updated in 2010 in response to changes, such as increased population projections and reduced imported water reliability (see Home > History of Groundwater Planning page). The 2010 Plan goals are shown below.

The goals of the 2010 Coachella Valley Water Management Plan are to:

  • Meet current and future demands with a 10% supply buffer
  • Eliminate long-term groundwater overdraft
  • Manage and project water quality
  • Comply with state and federal laws and regulations
  • Manage future costs
  • Minimize adverse environmental impacts

In January 2017, the GSA Management Committee collaboratively submitted the 2010 Coachella Valley Water Management Plan Update and supporting materials as an Alternative Plan for the Indio Subbasin. The Alternative Plan was approved by DWR on July 17, 2019. With this approval, DWR made several recommendations for new information and a requirement that the first Alternative Plan Update be prepared by January 1, 2022.

The Alternative Plan is available to review here. Key reports are shown below.

Alternative Plan Update

SGMA requires that GSPs and Alternative Plans be updated every five years. Because the Indio Subbasin Alternative Plan was first submitted in 2017, an update must be prepared by 2022. DWR has given the GSAs a deadline of January 1, 2022 for submittal of the Indio Subbasin Alternative Plan Update.

The GSA Management Committee is currently working on the Indio Subbasin Alternative Plan Update to ensure population growth, land use changes, and other future conditions are incorporated into water management planning in the region. The Alternative Plan Update will analyze groundwater pumping and recharge volumes (the basin’s “water balance”) to understand the progress of the Alternative Plan in attaining groundwater sustainability. The Alternative Plan Update will also review and assess the groundwater management projects and strategies that the agencies have been implementing since the 2010 Plan. This assessment will help us to understand which management strategies worked in achieving our goals (see Call-Out box above) and how we might update them to secure basin sustainability under future conditions.

The Management Committee may make other changes in the Plan Update to ensure the plan meets SGMA requirements and that DWR recommendations have been considered.

Common Acronyms
CVWD = Coachella Valley Water District
CWA = Coachella Water Authority
DWA = Desert Water Agency
DWR = California Department of Water Resources
GSA = Groundwater Sustainability Agency
GSP = Groundwater Sustainability Plan
IWA = Indio Water Authority
JPA = Joint Powers Authority
MOA = Memorandum of Agreement
SGMA = Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
SWRCB = State Water Resources Control Board

Plan Reports & Resources

As the Alternative Plan Update moves forward, reports and materials that are created for the planning process will be uploaded here.

2010 Alternative Plan

A copy of the Alternative GSP for the Indio Subbasin can be found at DWR’s SGMA Portal (Section B).

Annual Report

Copies of the Annual Reports can be found at DWR’s SGMA Portal (Section D).

  • Indio Subbasin Annual Report for Water Year 2018-2019
  • Indio Subbasin Annual Report for Water Year 2017-2018
  • Indio Subbasin Annual Report for Water Year 2016-2017

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