SGMA strongly encourages closer planning coordination between water supply and land use agencies to ensure water supply planning accurately forecasts and secures water supplies for future land use changes, and that land use planning considers the effects of projected growth on water resource management. Local agencies are required to acknowledge GSPs or Alternative Plans when a legislative body is adopting or substantially amending its General Plan. General Plans must accurately reflect the information in the GSP with regards to available water supplies. In addition, a city or county must now refer the proposed adoption or substantial amendment of a General Plan to any affected GSA(s). In response, the GSA(s) must provide the land use agency with the current version of its GSP and any information that is relevant to determining the adequacy of existing and planned future water supplies to meet existing and planned future demands.
A GSP is the plan outlining how to achieve sustainably managed groundwater that meets the requirements of SGMA. GSAs in high and medium priority groundwater basins are required to submit a GSP to the State. The plan must outline how the GSA will implement, manage and measure specific actions to groundwater achieve sustainability within 20 years. If a GSA already has an existing groundwater management plan that is functionally equivalent to a GSP, they were able to submit it for DWR approval.
In January 2017, the Coachella Valley Water District, Desert Water Agency, Coachella Water Authority, and Indio Water Authority collaboratively submitted the 2010 Coachella Valley Water Management Plan Update, the 2016 SGMA Alternative Groundwater Sustainability Plan Bridge Document for the Indio Subbasin, and other supporting documents as an Alternative Plan to a GSP for the Subbasin, which was subsequently approved by DWR on July 17, 2019.
Twenty years before the adoption of SGMA, Coachella Valley Water District began development of the 2002 Coachella Valley Water Management Plan to address groundwater sustainability in the Subbasin. That plan was updated in 2010 as the 2010 Coachella Valley Water Management Plan Update. In 2014 and 2016, Coachella Valley Water Management Plan Status Reports were prepared to review the planning assumptions and implementation status. Annual reports describing changes in water supply and demand and updates to management actions, as required under Section 356.2 of the GSP Emergency Regulations, are submitted to DWR. The Indio Subbasin Annual Report for Water Year 2018-2019, the third annual report for the Indio Subbasin, is expected to be submitted in March 2020.
A Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) or Alternative Plan is a document that outlines how the GSAs will implement, manage and measure the results of specific actions for the health and viability of the groundwater basin. The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) will evaluate GSPs or Alternative Plan to provide the GSA with an assessment of the plan and any necessary recommendations every five years following its establishment.