Improving the Linkage Between Groundwater and Land Use Planning

April 10, 2014
Janny Choy

A new Water in the West report, “Before the Well Runs Dry: Improving the Linkage Between Groundwater and Land Use Planning,” identifies opportunities for managing groundwater and land use more coherently in California.

Groundwater is a critical resource in California, providing from 30% of the state’s water supply in normal years to 40% or more in dry years.  As unsustainable groundwater use driven by land use changes continues in many basins around the state, there is growing consensus that more effective integration of land use planning and groundwater management is needed. To address this growing concern, Water in the West convened thirty groundwater managers, land use planners, water lawyers, consultants, and academics at Stanford University last fall in an Uncommon Dialogue, designed to bring leaders from different sectors to develop practical solutions to pressing environmental challenges centered on water.

This report, shaped in part by the Dialogue, provides the background and regulatory context for land use planning and groundwater management in California, shares case studies that highlight the intersection of groundwater and land use, and makes specific recommendations to improve the linkage between land use decisions and groundwater management in the state. The report includes several local case studies - Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, Orcutt (Santa Maria Groundwater Basin), Butte County, and Kings Basin Integrated Regional Water Management - to show how different communities in the state are responding to their groundwater and land use challenges.

Read the News Release

Executive Summary

Full Report