Welcome to Mission Creek Subbasin SGMA
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Final Alternative Plan Update
The Mission Creek Subbasin Alternative Plan Update for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (the “SGMA”) that was adopted by the Management Committee Agencies and is now available at: Volume I – Alternative Plan Update Report and Volume II – Alternative Plan Update Appendices A-I. Comments received during the public review period and responses to the comments can be found in Appendix H of Volume II.
The Management Committee Agencies held public hearings and adopted the Mission Creek Subbasin Alternative Plan Update. Following adoption, the Mission Creek Subbasin Alternative Plan Update was uploaded to the Department of Water Resources SGMA portal at: https://sgma.water.ca.gov/portal/alternative/periodiceval/.
The Coachella Valley relies on groundwater as its main source of water supply for local homes and businesses. Groundwater is pumped by local wells and distributed for drinking, irrigation, and other purposes. To offset the amount of water pumped by local wells, the region’s water agencies import water from the Colorado River to replenish the basin, recycle wastewater for irrigation, and incentivize conservation – this is called “groundwater management”. Local water agencies have been working on groundwater management since the 1940s when local leaders began importing water to supplement local groundwater supplies.
The Coachella Valley Groundwater Basin extends from the Whitewater River in the northwest to the Salton Sea in southeast. The Mission Creek Subbasin is located in the north-central portion of the Coachella Valley Groundwater Basin and is a water source for urban, industrial, fish farm, and golf course uses. Historically, more groundwater was pumped out of the Mission Creek Subbasin each year than the amount of water that naturally replenishes the Subbasin, which is called “overdraft”. Overdraft occurs when a groundwater basin has pumping (demands) that exceeds recharge (supplies) over the long term. If unmanaged, overdraft can reduce a region’s total available water supply and lead to other negative effects, such as drops in the groundwater table and land subsidence. Agencies within the Mission Creek Subbasin began to actively manage the Subbasin as a result of the 2003 Mission Creek Groundwater Replenishment Agreement. The subsequent 2004 Mission Creek Settlement Agreement led to the formation of the Management Committee.
Given that many groundwater basins in California are in overdraft, the State of California passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act to require local agencies to better manage the groundwater basins to ensure long term availability of water supplies.
Overview of SGMA
In 2014, California enacted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). SGMA requires that a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) or Alternative Plan be adopted for basins and subbasins designated by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) as medium- or high-priority. Basin prioritization is based on a variety of factors such as population, number of wells, pumping, overdraft, and other information determined to be relevant by DWR.
SGMA requires that a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) (or Agencies – see Management Committee below) be established to manage the basin and develop the GSP or submit an Alternative Plan. The GSP or Alternative Plan must explain how the groundwater basin will be kept in balance to achieve long term sustainability. DWR will evaluate each GSP or Alternative Plan in how well it will achieve basin sustainability. Approved GSPs or Alternative Plans must be updated every five years. For the Mission Creek Subbasin the first five-year update to the Alternative Plan was submitted to DWR in December 2021 (see Alternative Plan Update page).
Mission Creek Subbasin
The Mission Creek Subbasin is part of the Coachella Valley Groundwater Basin, and is designated as Basin No. 7-021.02 in the DWR Bulletin 118 (DWR, 2016). The Mission Creek Subbasin was designated as a medium-priority subbasin under SGMA by DWR.
The Mission Creek Subbasin is bounded by the Little San Bernardino Mountains to the east, the San Jacinto and San Bernardino Mountains to the west, the Indio Hills to the southeast, and the Indio Subbasin to the south.
The Mission Creek Subbasin is located within the Coachella Valley Groundwater Basin, which also includes the San Gorgonio Pass, Indio, and Desert Hot Springs Subbasins. The three water agencies in the Mission Creek Subbasin – Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD), Desert Water Agency (DWA), and Mission Springs Water District (MSWD) – are collaborating to manage the Mission Creek Subbasin under SGMA.
History of Groundwater Planning
The Mission Creek Subbasin Management Area was initially formed on April 8, 2003 when CVWD and DWA entered into the Mission Creek Groundwater Replenishment Agreement for the cooperative management of groundwater replenishment. The Mission Creek Subbasin Management Committee was formed as a result of the 2004 Settlement Agreement which also resulted in the agreement to jointly prepare a Water Management Plan for the Mission Creek and Garnet Hill Subbasins. In 2013, the 2013 Mission Creek/Garnet Hill Water Management Plan (2013 MC/GH WMP) was prepared to address the more specific needs of the Mission Creek Subbasin and Garnet Hill Subarea (Subarea of the Indio Subbasin). The basic goal of the 2013 MC/GH WMP is “to describe existing water management programs, evaluate potential alternative management strategies and recommend additional programs with the goal of ensuring that water resources are sustained and protected in the future.”
With the passage of SGMA, the water agencies collaboratively submitted the 2013 MC/GH WMP and supporting materials as an “Alternative Plan” to a GSP for the Mission Creek Subbasin. In July 2019, that Alternative Plan was approved by DWR, along with some recommendations for new information and requirement that an Alternative Plan Update be prepared by January 1, 2022 (see Alternative Plan Update page), and every five years thereafter.
The three water agencies located within the Mission Creek Subbasin have formed the Management Committee. CVWD and DWA are each exclusive GSAs that oversee and manage portions of the Mission Creek Subbasin that overlay each of their respective service areas. These agencies coordinate with MSWD, a managing partner, to develop the Mission Creek Subbasin Alternative Plan Update.
There are no upcoming meetings scheduled for 2022.
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