IN CALIFORNIA, surface waters have historically been regulated as if they were unconnected to groundwater. Yet in reality, surface waters and groundwater are often hydrologically connected. Many of the rivers that support fisheries such as salmon and trout are hydrologically dependent on tributary groundwater to maintain instream flow. This means that when there is intensive pumping of tributary groundwater, the result can be reductions in instream flow and damage to fisheries. For this reason, stakeholders concerned with adequate instream flows for fisheries in California's rivers, streams, and creeks need to be effectively engaged in the implementation of California's Sustainable Groundwater Management Act ("SGMA").
This Article explains six important considerations, and how they can be incorporated into the substantive and procedural aspects of SGMA Groundwater Plans to ensure such plans are protective of fisheries. Although the focus of this Article is on fisheries, the information and analysis contained herein may also be useful in drafting provisions of SGMA Groundwater Plans that address the more general question of how groundwater pumping can affect other beneficial uses of surface waters.
54 U.S.F.L. Rev. 473 (2020).