Third San Joaquin Valley groundwater basin recommended for state probation

May 7, 2024
Lisa McEwen, SJV Water
by Lisa McEwen, SJV Water
Farmers, upset over groundwater pumping allocations, attend a Sept. 26, 2023 meeting of the Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency. Lisa McEwen / SJV Water
Lisa McEwen, SJV Water
Lisa McEwen, SJV Water


Staff will hold two workshops to explain the draft staff report and share more about how to participate in the State Water Board’s process. Staff will also accept verbal public comments on the draft staff report at the workshops. While a quorum of the Water Board may be present, the Water Board will not take action at the workshops.

Virtual Workshop
Monday, June 24, 2024
11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Staff presentation will start at 11 a.m.
Staff will begin accepting public comments at 12:15 p.m.
Zoom link:
English and Spanish webcast of the virtual staff workshop with closed captioning will be available at If you wish to ask a question or make a comment, please join using the Zoom link.

In-Person Workshop
Thursday, June 27, 2024
5:30  – 8:30 p.m.
(No internet viewing option)
Staff presentation will start at 5:30 p.m.
Staff will begin accepting public comments at 7 p.m.
Sequoia High School (Multi-Purpose Room) 1040 N Woodland Ave
Visalia, CA 93291

The public is invited to provide feedback on the State Water Board’s draft staff report no later than noon on July 8, 2024. The following documents are available for review:

Due by noon July 8, 2024. Use the subject line: “Comments – Kaweah Subbasin.”

Electronic Comments:
Written comments may be submitted electronically via email in pdf format (if less than 15 megabytes in total size) to If the file is greater than 15 megabytes in size, the written comments may be submitted by fax at
(916) 341-5620, in multiple emails, by mail, or by hand delivery.

Mail/Hand Delivery:
Comments submitted by mail or hand delivery must be addressed as follows:
Courtney Tyler, Clerk to the Board
State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street, 24th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814-0100 (hand delivery) P.O. Box 100, Sacramento, CA 95812-2000 (mail)

Mail must be received (not postmarked) at the State Water Board office by
July 8, 2024. All hand-delivered submittals must arrive and be date and timestamped prior to July 8, 2024, at noon. Couriers delivering hard copies of comment letters must check-in with lobby front desk personnel who will contact the Clerk to the Board at (916) 341-5611.

Information regarding how to comment on the final staff report will be provided after the final staff report is available.

If you would like a copy of the written comments submitted on this subject, please send a request to identifying the subject listed above. Copies of written comments will not be available until after the comment deadline.

Tuesday, November 5, 2024, at 9 a.m.
Coastal Hearing Room
Joe Serna Jr. – CalEPA Headquarters Building 1001 I Street, Second Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814

To provide oral public comment during the hearing, interested persons must fill out a virtual speaker card before, or on the day off the hearing. The form will not accept responses until a few days prior to the public hearing. The board clerk will respond with Zoom login information in advance of the meeting. Click here for more information about participating remotely.

The proceedings will be webcast and closed captioning can be accessed at


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Subsidence has reared its head again as a key factor cited by state Water Resources Control Board staff for recommending that the Kaweah groundwater subbasin be placed on probation – the first step toward possible state takeover of groundwater pumping.

The recommendation was contained in a draft report released May 6, which set Nov. 5 for Kaweah’s hearing before the Water Board.

Subsidence was listed as a major factor in similar staff reports for the Tulare Lake and Tule subbasins. Tulare Lake was, indeed, placed on probation by the Water Board April 16 and the Tule subbasin comes before the board Sept. 17.

The Kaweah  report  identified additional challenges for water managers in the subbasin, which covers the northern half of Tulare County’s valley portion into the eastern fringes of Kings County. Those challenges include the need to better protect domestic wells from lowered groundwater levels; reduce impacts to wetlands and rivers; and improve water quality, among others. 

The Kaweah subbasin

A coordinated response to the newly identified issues will be provided at two upcoming public workshops, according to a press release issued by the subbasin’s three groundwater agencies, East Kaweah, Mid-Kaweah and Greater Kaweah. This is different from what occurred at the workshops for Tulare Lake and Tule, in which managers provided separate statements during a public comment period.

“The Kaweah Subbasin GSAs (groundwater sustainability agencies) look forward to sharing our work and progress towards groundwater sustainability,” the release states. 

A virtual workshop will be held June 24 and an in-person workshop is set for June 27 at Sequoia High School in Visalia. The public is invited to share written comments on the report by July 8. 

Tulare Lake, Tule and Kaweah are among six San Joaquin Valley subbasins under the microscope of the Water Board, the enforcement arm of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires groundwater basins be brought into balance by 2040.

The Kern subbasin will come before the board in January 2025. And the Delta-Mendota and Chowchilla subbasins will have hearings later in 2025.

If revised groundwater plans do not meet the Water Board’s satisfaction, then state bureaucrats can step in to manage the basin in a “probationary” stage which means landowners must report extractions, place meters on their wells, and pay fees to register wells and for every acre foot pumped. 

The Kaweah subbasin has the benefit of learning from the Tulare Lake and Tule agencies’ experience before the Water Board. 

Unlike Tulare Lake, whose five GSAs appeared before the board with no updated plan, Kaweah managers anticipate a revised plan ready for review by the end of May, which will give state board staff time to review it. Tule managers are working feverishly to provide a plan in advance of their hearing. 

Managers in East Kaweah and Mid-Kaweah instituted groundwater pumping limits and began charging extraction fees several years ago to change behavior and attitudes among pumpers. 

The Greater Kaweah GSA, however, didn’t begin similar efforts until last fall, which caused a great deal of tension between the agencies.

That appears to have dissipated somewhat in recent months.

In a report to the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District board May 7, Greater Kaweah manager Mark Larsen said that he is encouraged by the progress and coordination happening among the three GSAs to address deficiencies from the Department of Water Resources, and now, the state water board. 

“I think we’re in a good position to have an approved plan,” he said.

Lisa McEwen, SJV Water

SJV Water is an independent, nonprofit news site dedicated to covering water in the San Joaquin Valley. Get inside access to SJV Water by becoming a member.


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