The goal of the Eastern San Joaquin County Groundwater Basin Authority (GBA) is to work collaboratively to develop locally supported projects that improve water supply reliability and improve groundwater levels in Eastern San Joaquin County. The GBA is a consensus-based joint powers authority and works cooperatively with unanimity to speak on behalf of its Members with one voice.
In January 1980, the California Department of Water Resources issued Bulletin 118‐80 that characterized the Eastern San Joaquin County Groundwater Basin as “critically overdrafted” which is defined as continuation of present water management practices that would result in significant adverse overdraft‐related impacts. Since 1980, the San Joaquin County community has responded by implementing a number of projects to benefit the groundwater basin and reverse overdraft. Approximately $700 Million has been spent by the various agencies implementing these projects. Farmers and urban residents have also become increasingly efficient at using water and today use approximately 25 percent less water than they did in previous decades. Through these efforts, the Eastern San Joaquin Groundwater Basin is today a basin in recovery.
Looking forward, while we have been vigilant and have had a few successes, the future of water management in California is as uncertain as it has ever been. The declining health of the Sacramento‐ San Joaquin Bay‐Delta, increasing water requirements for fish and wildlife, and the occasional drought only serve to highlight the intense competition for and scarcity of surface water and groundwater resources. As these conflicts escalate, eastern San Joaquin County and others throughout California must continue to implement projects that increase water supply reliability, provide access to supplemental water supply, and improve groundwater levels to serve as a reserve in times of drought.
Groundwater management is a local issue and should continue to be managed by local and regional collaborative efforts. Within Eastern San Joaquin County, our experience has taught us that effective water management responds to the unique needs of individual regions as local and regional stakeholders are best positioned to define and implement projects and programs for the region in which they have a vested interest. The extremely challenging goal to develop a sustainable water supply for the social, environmental, and economic viability of San Joaquin County will be achieved if we as a community continue to collaboratively and incrementally work to achieve this goal. Implementation of the projects in this 2014 Integrated Regional Water Management Plan Update will advance us towards our goal and be our legacy to future generations.