Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Water Agreement On Tap


Last updated 1/23/2020 at 11:21am

The long-awaited agreement among major pumpers in the Borrego Sub-basin to reduce groundwater extraction over the next 20 years by about 75% was released in draft form on Nov. 20. The Stipulated Judgment and the accompanying “physical solution,” in the form of a newly re-named Groundwater Management Plan (GMP), are available for public review on the Borrego Water District website at

The first public meeting will be held Tuesday Dec. 3 in the library, 5:30 p.m. Two more dates will be announced at a later time. The GMP is virtually identical to the GSP, reflecting changes in terms specified in the Stipulation.

At the BWD meeting on Nov. 19, General Manager Geoff Poole summarized the documents and steps going forward to ensure public input prior to the draft Stip/GMP being submitted to the Superior Court and Department of Water Resources for approval. Since the process for final approval may take over a year to complete, some of the agreed upon details within the Stip/GMP will go into immediate effect while the review period is ongoing.

Overview of Proposed Stipulated Judgment – Nov. 20, 2019 || Stipulated Judgment Compared with GSP

Prepared by the Borrego Water District

Purpose. The Stipulated Judgment defines Basin water rights for each pumper producing two acre-feet or more in the Basin and imposes a “physical solution” regarding Basin management including use of Basin storage space, overseen by the Superior Court. The Stipulated Judgment thus offers a permanent, durable solution to Basin water management issues. By contrast, a GSP cannot interfere with water rights. Thus, any GSP “allocation” of water or other actions taken by the GSA could be subject to legal challenge or be undone by the filing of a contested water rights adjudication at any time.

SGMA Alternative. SGMA allows a stipulated judgment to serve as an “alternative” to a GSP.

DWR Role. As with a GSP, DWR will review the proposed stipulated judgment, including the groundwater management plan, for compliance with SGMA. Any DWR recommended corrective actions to the proposed stipulated judgment will be submitted to the Court and the parties for review and approval.

Physical Solution/Groundwater Management Plan (GMP). With minor modifications to conform its terms to the Stipulated Judgment, the draft final GSP will serve as the groundwater management plan (GMP) for the Basin. The “Physical Solution” consists of the GMP, the Stipulated Judgment, the associated court documents, and adaptive management of the Basin over time, as overseen by the Court.

Baseline Production Allowances/Annual Allocation. BPA’s will be established for each pumper consistent with BPA’s calculated by the County as part of GSP development. In addition, existing water credit holders will receive BPA based upon prior purchasing/fallowing of agricultural property.

Annual Allocation. Each year, a pumper will be allowed to pump up to its “Annual Allocation.” The Annual Allocation is calculated as a percentage of the Party’s BPA, ramped down over time to equal the Basin’s Sustainable Yield. (See below for further details.)

BWD Water Rights. BWD’s BPA will be 2,222 acre-feet per year (AFY) plus 359 AFY in water credits for a total of 2,581 AFY. BWD’s current pumping demands for existing customers are approximately 1,600 AFY. New development will need to supply its own water supply, consistent with the BWD Developer’s Policy.

ABDSP. The State Park will receive a fixed, non-reducible pumping allocation of 20 AFY to support its continued needs.

Carry-Over. Pumpers, including BWD, will be allowed to “carry over” water if they underpump in any given year, so long as they timely pay Watermaster assessments. In addition, a party’s carry-over “account” can never exceed two times its BPA. Any carryover must be the first water used in the following Water Year.

Full article in the Nov. 28 issue of the Borrego Sun.

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