Dispute Resolution Processes: Thinking through SGMA Implementation

October 09, 2019
Tara Moran, Ph.D.,  Janet Martinez,  William Blomquist
Building the capacity to resolve disputes and work together is critical for a sustainable water future. However recent analysis conducted by Water in the West, the Gould Center for Conflict Resolution and Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis suggests that alternative dispute resolution processes are rarely used even when included in water management agreements. Given the long and expensive history associated with litigation in California and beyond, these findings suggest that local and state agencies should be doing more to educate their members on the value of alternative dispute resolution processes, like mediation and facilitation. The report makes the following recommendations for local agencies developing sustainability plans under SGMA and the state agencies supporting them.
  1. GSAs should consider devoting time and resources to developing local-level dispute resolution processes.
  2. The State should consider developing state-sponsored programs to support alternative dispute resolution.
  3. The State should consider working with existing alternative dispute resolution programs to develop messaging around the value of mediation.
  4. Courts throughout California should commit to redirect any complaint filings involving Groundwater Sustainability Agencies to Alternative Dispute Resolution processes. 
For more please see the report summary or the full report below.