California Climate, Groundwater and Their Interrelated Future
Claudia Faunt, Project Chief, U.S. Geological Survey
Management to ensure the sustainability of California’s water resources is critical. Groundwater is a crucial buffer against land-use change effects, water restrictions, drought, and the impacts of climate change, including the depletion of mountain snowpack that is relied on for part of California's water supply. Despite its essential role, the state’s groundwater system is under considerable strain and until recently has been largely unregulated. California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (SGMA) provides a framework to comprehensively measure and manage groundwater, and empowers local agencies to assess hydrologic issues that may cause “undesirable results.” California’s Central Valley has many basins with “undesirable results,” and most of these are considered “critically overdrafted basins.” The Central Valley covers about 20,000 mi2 and is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. Because the valley is semi-arid, surface-water availability varies substantially. Agricultural demand for irrigation is heavily reliant on surface water and groundwater, and in parts of the valley, groundwater pumping has caused severe groundwater-level declines, resulting in land subsidence of up to 30 feet. Starting in the 1950s, state and federal water distribution systems eased reliance on groundwater as dependence shifted to diverted surface water. As a result, groundwater levels recovered, and subsidence virtually ceased for a few decades. In the last 20 years, however, land-use changes and limitations to surface-water availability—including drought and environmental flows—have increased pumping, causing groundwater-level and groundwater-storage declines, renewed subsidence, decreased stream flows, and changes to ecosystems. As these recent trends continue, monitoring and modelling are critical to understanding the dynamics of groundwater use and developing management strategies. Modeling tools, such as the USGS’s Central Valley Hydrologic Model, enable: (1) Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to have a head start in meeting requirements for key elements of their Groundwater Sustainability Plans, including a hydrogeologic conceptual model, water budgets (past & projected), development of measurable objectives and minimum thresholds, and monitoring network design; and (2) GSAs and state agencies to develop management strategies to mitigate adverse impacts while also optimizing water availability. Such capabilities are critical for successful implementation of SGMA.
Dr. Claudia Faunt has been a hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey since 1988 and a part of the California Water Science Center since 1998. As a USGS hydrologist, she has led studies that focused on regional groundwater flow systems, including the Central Valley of California and Death Valley, California and Nevada. Her research has specialized in water availability, regional groundwater flow modeling, hydrogeologic framework modeling, and incorporation of hydrologic and geologic spatial information into groundwater models. Claudia’s recent technical experience includes several projects related to water availability in the Central Valley. Claudia received her Doctorate in Geological Engineering in 1994 from the Colorado School of Mines. In 2013, Claudia became Program Chief of the California Water Science Center’s Groundwater Framework and Applied Modeling section.
The Meeting format will consist of:
Registration - 5:30 to 6:30 PM
Dinner and Announcements - 6:30 to 7:30 PM
Keynote Speaker - 7:30 to 8:30PM
Questions and Answers- 8:30 to 8:45 PM
Cancellation Policy: GRA will accept cancellations with no charge until 12:00 PM (Noon) on Friday, March 10th. Cancellation after that time, or non-attendance, will require full payment. Thank you for your cooperation.
Participation - State-wide, GRA is achieving record meetings, symposiums, and branch activities; although our Los Angeles/Orange County local branch has been relatively idle. We are looking for volunteers to take on active leading roles in our branch. Join us at the meeting, or email Paul Parmentier at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also propose a new set of officers for 2017 at the meeting.
Scholastic Sponsorship Program - The Southern California Branch continues its ongoing scholastic sponsorship program, which involves local sponsors supporting our annual scholarship fund for students who are engaged in groundwater studies. If your organization is interested in participating as a sponsor for a future event, please contact a Branch Officer.
Email List - Visit the GRA web site (grac.org) to confirm your interest in getting emails on branch events, webinars and state-level events.
San Diego Branch - GRA is excited to announce that the new San Diego branch has been formed, and an Inland Empire branch may also be forming.