This commentary was published in The Fresno Bee on September 29, 2021.
Communities around the state—and particularly in the San Joaquin Valley—are feeling the pain from groundwater overpumping, including drying wells, land subsidence, and struggling ecosystems. The 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) will change that by requiring water users bring their groundwater basins into balance by the early 2040s. Stewarding the state’s aquifers will bring numerous benefits, particularly as the climate changes—but it will also force hard choices. While many have focused on transition challenges for San Joaquin Valley agriculture—the region’s largest industry and largest groundwater user, it’s also important to evaluate how SGMA will impact the valley’s urban areas—another engine of growth, where most residents live.