How will the GSP affect local cities and the county?

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 or Alternative Plan 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 or Alternative Plan and any information that is relevant to determining the adequacy of existing and planned future water supplies to meet existing and planned future demands.

What is the Alternative Plan and how does it relate to a GSP?

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 achieve groundwater sustainability within 20 years. If a GSA already had an existing groundwater management plan that is functionally equivalent to a GSP, they were able to submit it for DWR approval as an Alternative Plan.

In December 2016, the CVWD, DWA, and MSWD collaboratively submitted the 2013 Mission Creek/Garnet Hill Water Management Plan and the SGMA Alternative Groundwater Sustainability Plan Bridge Document for the Mission Creek 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.

2013 WMP and Alternative Plan Bridge
2016 Bridge Document and 2013 Water Management Plan

What work has already been completed?

In 2009, the Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD), Desert Water Agency (DWA), and Mission Springs Water District (MSWD) began development of the 2013 Mission Creek/Garnet Hill Water Management Plan to address groundwater sustainability in the Subbasin. In 2016, the SGMA Alternative Groundwater Sustainability Plan Bridge Document for the Mission Creek Subbasin was prepared by the Management Committee to demonstrate that the MC/GH WMP was functionally equivalent to a GSP. 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 Mission Creek Subbasin Annual Report for Water Year 2018-2019, the third annual report for the Mission Creek Subbasin, is available online at

What is a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP)?

A Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) or Alternative Plan is a document that outlines how the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (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 Plans to provide the GSA with an assessment of the plan and any necessary recommendations every five years following its establishment.