Chowchilla Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan Revisions

Client: Chowchilla Water District

Funder: DWR SGMA Grant

Location: Chowchilla Subbasin, Madera County, CA

Date: 2021 - ongoing

In winter 2021/2022, Davids Engineering, Inc. (DE) was contracted by Chowchilla Water District on behalf of the four Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) with the Chowchilla Subbasin to support their revisions to the Chowchilla Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) in response to comments received from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). The Chowchilla Subbasin GSP was developed jointly by four GSAs that cover the entirety of the Chowchilla Subbasin (Subbasin): the Chowchilla Water District (CWD) GSA, the County of Madera GSA – Chowchilla Subbasin, the Triangle T Water District (TTWD) GSA, and the Merced County GSA – Chowchilla Subbasin. In DWR’s January 2022 “incomplete” determination for the Subbasin GSP, DWR identified three deficiencies pertaining to (1) insufficient information to support the selection of chronic lowering of groundwater levels sustainable management criteria, (2) insufficient information to support the selection of land subsidence sustainable management criteria, and (3) insufficient information to support the determination that interconnected surface water or undesirable results related to depletions of interconnected surface water are not present and are not likely to occur in the Subbasin.

Over the 180-day period from January 2022 to July 2022, DE supported the Joint GSP GSAs in developing and implementing a strategy for the GSP revisions and consulting with DWR staff to discuss and verify that the revisions were on track toward approval. DE led and supported technical revisions to the GSP through weekly and biweekly technical coordination meetings, several formal consultation meetings with DWR, and other touchpoints to work through the many technical and policy decisions involved in the GSP revisions. DE also teamed with Luhdorff & Scalmanini Consulting Engineers (LSCE) to complete various hydrogeologic technical analyses and revisions to the GSP document related to these discussions and decisions.

During the GSP revisions process, DE supported the GSAs in the initial development of a domestic well mitigation program Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to address and mitigate domestic well impact concerns in the Subbasin related to groundwater level decline. As of summer 2023, the Domestic Well Mitigation Program in the Chowchilla Subbasin is funded and up and running in the Chowchilla Subbasin. To the best of DE’s knowledge this is the only fully developed, GSA led, and up and running domestic well mitigation program in the San Joaquin Valley.

In March 2023, DWR determined that the Revised GSP for the Subbasin was inadequate. Once DWR determines that a GSP is inadequate, primary jurisdiction shifts from DWR to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). Immediately after DWR’s inadequate determination, DE and the GSAs began formal consultations with the SWRCB. Those discussions concluded in the submission of a draft set of GSP revisions on May 5, 2023. Since submission of the draft revised GSP, DE as the technical lead has worked extensively with the SWRCB on next steps. To date, the Subbasin is at the bottom of the SWRCB’s priority list for the six subbasins that have been sent to DWR and DE is optimistic that the Subbasin won’t have to proceed with a Probationary Hearing.

All Projects

Tehama County Groundwater Sustainability Plan Implementation 

Colusa Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan Revisions

Madera Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan Revisions 

Chowchilla Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan Revisions

Moore Siphon Replacement Project

Dos Rios Ranch SB88 Compliance and Crop Planning Analysis

Hart Ranch On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Improvements

Orland Project Distribution System Modernization

Water Management Plan Compliance Mapping

Agricultural Development Feasibility Assessment

Analysis of Effects of Water Management on Evapotranspiration from Managed Wetlands

Garden Highway Mutual Water Company Water Control Projects

Richvale Irrigation District Phase I Infrastructure Modernization

Joint Water Districts Board SCADA

Sutter Mutual Water Company Modernization Support

Shasta Valley Groundwater Monitoring

Time Series Evapotranspiration and Applied Water Estimates from Remote Sensing

Customer Delivery Measurement Data Collection and Accounting (RemoteTracker Implementation)

SGMA Technical Support Services and Prop 1 Stressed Basin Grant Project

Efficiency Conservation Definite Plan and Conservation Program

Boundary Outflow Measurements

Oakdale Irrigation District Agricultural Water Management Plan

Yuba Water Agency Agricultural Water Managment Plan

Feather River Agricultural Water Management Plan (FRRAWMP)

Colusa Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan Development

Madera and Chowchilla Subbasins Groundwater Sustainability Plans

2022 Verification Project for Madera County GSAs

Little Shasta River Efficiency Study

Mill Creek Flow Measurement Improvements

Kettle Spring Improvement Project

Antelope Creek Fish Passage Improvement Project

Conservation Planning and Operations Decision Support