Amended in Assembly September 3, 2015

Amended in Assembly September 1, 2015

Amended in Assembly August 17, 2015

Amended in Senate May 5, 2015

Amended in Senate April 6, 2015

Senate BillNo. 226


Introduced by Senator Pavley

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(Principal coauthor: Assembly Member Alejo)

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February 13, 2015


An act tobegin insert add Section 837.5 to the Code of Civil Procedure, and toend insert amend Sections 10720.1, 10720.5, and 10722.2 of,begin delete to add Section 105.5 to,end delete and to add Chapter 12 (commencing with Section 10737) to Part 2.74 of Division 6 of, the Water Code, relating tobegin delete water.end deletebegin insert groundwater.end insert

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

SB 226, as amended, Pavley. Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: groundwater adjudication.

The California Constitution requires that the water resources of the state be put to beneficial use to the fullest extent of which they are capable. Existing law specifies the jurisdiction of the courts. Under existing law, courts may adjudicate rights to produce groundwater and exercise other powers relating to the supervision of a groundwater basin. Existing law authorizes a court to order a reference to the State Water Resources Control Board, as referee, of any and all issues involved inbegin delete the suit.end deletebegin insert a suit brought in any court of competent jurisdiction in this state for determination of rights to water.end insert

This bill would authorize the state to intervenebegin delete as a matter of right in any suit brought in any court for determination of rights to water.end deletebegin insert in a comprehensive adjudication conducted as specified in AB 1390 of the 2015-end insertbegin insert16 Regular Session.end insert

Existing law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, requires all groundwater basins designated as high- or medium-priority basins by the Department of Water Resources that are designated as basins subject to critical conditions of overdraft to be managed under a groundwater sustainability plan or coordinated groundwater sustainability plans by January 31, 2020, and requires all other groundwater basins designated as high- or medium-priority basins to be managed under a groundwater sustainability plan or coordinated groundwater sustainability plans by January 31, 2022, except as specified. The act authorizes a local agency to request that the department revise the boundaries of a basin.

This bill, in an adjudication action to determine rights to groundwater in a basin that is required to have a groundwater sustainability plan under the act, would require the court to manage the proceedings in a manner that minimizes interference with the timely completion and implementation of a groundwater sustainability plan, avoids redundancy and unnecessary costs in the development of technical information and a physical solution, and is consistent with the attainment of sustainable groundwater management within the timeframes established by the act. The bill would authorize an entity that is directed by the court in an adjudication action to file the request to request that the department revise the boundaries of a basin.

The act authorizes the state board to designate certain high- and medium-priority basins as a probationary basin if prescribed criteria are met. The act authorizes the state board to develop an interim plan for a probationary basin if the state board, in consultation with the department, determines that a local agency has not remedied a deficiency that resulted in designating the basin as a probationary basin within a certain timeframe. The act also requires the department, at least every 5 years after initial submission, to review any available groundwater sustainability plan or alternative and the implementation of the corresponding groundwater sustainability program for consistency with the act, including achieving the sustainability goal. The act requires the department to issue an assessment for each basin for which a plan or alternative has been submitted that may include recommended corrective actions to address any deficiencies identified by the department.

The bill would prohibit the provisions relating to probationary basins and interim plans from applying to abegin delete stipulatedend delete judgment approved by the court if the judgment is submitted to the department for evaluation and assessment and the department determines that the judgment satisfies the objectives of the act for the basin. The bill would require the department to submit to the court assessments and any recommended corrective actions for these judgments and would require the court, after notice and, if necessary, an evidentiary hearing, to determine whether to amend the judgment to adopt the department’s recommended corrective actions. This bill would prohibit a court from approving entry of judgment in an adjudication action for a basin required to have a groundwater sustainability plan under the act unless the court finds that the judgment will not substantially impair the ability of a groundwater sustainability agency, the board, or the department to comply with the act and to achieve sustainable groundwater management.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: no.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

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SECTION 1.  

Section 105.5 is added to the Water Code, to
2read:

3

105.5.  

(a) Notwithstanding any other law, the state may
4intervene as a matter of right in any suit brought in any court for
5determination of rights to water.

6(b) This section does not affect substantive law.

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7begin insert

begin insertSECTION 1.end insert  

end insert

begin insertSection 837.5 is added to the end insertbegin insertCode of Civil
8Procedure
end insert
begin insert, end insertimmediately following Section 837begin insert, to read:end insert

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9

begin insert837.5.end insert  

(a) The state may intervene in a comprehensive
10adjudication conducted pursuant to this chapter.

11(b) This section does not affect substantive law.

end insert
12

SEC. 2.  

Section 10720.1 of the Water Code is amended to read:

13

10720.1.  

In enacting this part, it is the intent of the Legislature
14to do all of the following:

15(a) To provide for the sustainable management of groundwater
16basins.

17(b) To enhance local management of groundwater consistent
18with rights to use or store groundwater and Section 2 of Article X
19of the California Constitution. It is the intent of the Legislature to
20preserve the security of water rights in the state to the greatest
P4    1extent possible consistent with the sustainable management of
2groundwater.

3(c) To establish minimum standards for sustainable groundwater
4management.

5(d) To provide local groundwater agencies with the authority
6and the technical and financial assistance necessary to sustainably
7manage groundwater.

8(e) To avoid or minimize subsidence.

9(f) To improve data collection and understanding about
10groundwater.

11(g) To increase groundwater storage and remove impediments
12to recharge.

13(h) To manage groundwater basins through the actions of local
14governmental agencies to the greatest extent feasible, while
15minimizing state intervention to only when necessary to ensure
16that local agencies manage groundwater in a sustainable manner.

17(i) To provide a more efficient and cost-effective groundwater
18adjudication process that protects water rights, ensures due process,
19prevents unnecessary delay, and furthers the objectives of this part.

20

SEC. 3.  

Section 10720.5 of the Water Code is amended to read:

21

10720.5.  

(a) Groundwater management pursuant to this part
22shall be consistent with Section 2 of Article X of the California
23Constitution. Nothing in this part modifies rights or priorities to
24use or store groundwater consistent with Section 2 of Article X of
25the California Constitution, except that in basins designated
26medium- or high-priority basins by the department, no extraction
27of groundwater between January 1, 2015, and the date of adoption
28of a groundwater sustainability plan pursuant to this part or the
29approval by the department of an alternative submitted under
30Section 10733.6, whichever is sooner, may be used as evidence
31of, or to establish or defend against, any claim of prescription.

32(b) Nothing in this part, or in any groundwater management
33plan adopted pursuant to this part, determines or alters surface
34water rights or groundwater rights under common law or any
35provision of law that determines or grants surface water rights.

36(c) Water rights may be determined in an adjudication action
37pursuant to Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 10
38of Part 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

39

SEC. 4.  

Section 10722.2 of the Water Code is amended to read:

P5    1

10722.2.  

(a) A local agency or an entity directed by the court
2in an adjudication action to file the request may request that the
3department revise the boundaries of a basin, including the
4establishment of new subbasins. A request shall be supported by
5the following information:

6(1) Information demonstrating that the proposed adjusted basin
7can be the subject of sustainable groundwater management.

8(2) Technical information regarding the boundaries of, and
9conditions in, the proposed adjusted basin.

10(3) Information demonstrating that the entity proposing the
11basin boundary adjustment consulted with interested local agencies
12and public water systems in the affected basins before filing the
13proposal with the department.

14(4) Other information the department deems necessary to justify
15revision of the basin’s boundary.

16(b) By January 1, 2016, the department shall adopt regulations
17regarding the information required to comply with subdivision (a),
18including the methodology and criteria to be used to evaluate the
19proposed revision. The department shall adopt the regulations,
20including any amendments thereto, authorized by this section as
21emergency regulations in accordance with the Administrative
22Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of
23Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code). The
24 adoption of these regulations is an emergency and shall be
25considered by the Office of Administrative Law as necessary for
26the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety,
27or general welfare. Notwithstanding the Administrative Procedure
28Act, emergency regulations adopted by the department pursuant
29to this section shall not be subject to review by the Office of
30Administrative Law and shall remain in effect until revised by the
31department.

32(c) Methodology and criteria established pursuant to subdivision
33(b) shall address all of the following:

34(1) How to assess the likelihood that the proposed basin can be
35sustainably managed.

36(2) How to assess whether the proposed basin would limit the
37sustainable management of adjacent basins.

38(3) How to assess whether there is a history of sustainable
39management of groundwater levels in the proposed basin.

P6    1(d) Prior to adopting the regulations pursuant to subdivision (b),
2the department shall conduct three public meetings to consider
3public comments. The department shall publish the draft
4regulations on its Internet Web site at least 30 days before the
5public meetings. One meeting shall be conducted at a location in
6northern California, one meeting shall be conducted at a location
7in the central valley of California, and one meeting shall be
8conducted at a location in southern California.

9(e) The department shall provide a copy of its draft revision of
10a basin’s boundaries to the California Water Commission. The
11California Water Commission shall hear and comment on the draft
12revision within 60 days after the department provides the draft
13revision to the commission.

14

SEC. 5.  

Chapter 12 (commencing with Section 10737) is added
15to Part 2.74 of Division 6 of the Water Code, to read:

16 

17Chapter  12. Determination of Rights to Groundwater
18

 

19

10737.  

Except as provided in this chapter, an adjudication
20action to determine rights to groundwater in a basin shall be
21conducted in accordance with the Code of Civil Procedure,
22including pursuant to Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 830)
23of Title 10 of Part 2 of that code.

24

10737.2.  

In an adjudication action for a basin required to have
25a groundwater sustainability plan under this part, the court shall
26manage the proceedings in a manner that minimizes interference
27with the timely completion and implementation of a groundwater
28sustainability plan, avoids redundancy and unnecessary costs in
29the development of technical information and a physical solution,
30and is consistent with the attainment of sustainable groundwater
31management within the timeframes established by this part.

32

10737.4.  

(a) Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 10735)
33shall not apply to abegin delete stipulatedend delete judgment approved by the court
34pursuant to Section 850 of the Code of Civil Procedure if both of
35the following apply:

36(1) A local agency or a party directed by the court to file the
37submission submits the judgment to the department for evaluation
38and assessment pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of
39Section 10733.6.

P7    1(2) The department determines that the judgment satisfies the
2objectives of this part for the basin.

3(b) A party or group of parties proposing a stipulated judgment
4pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 850 of the Code of Civil
5Procedure may submit the proposed stipulated judgment to the
6department for evaluation and assessment pursuant to paragraph
7(2) of subdivision (b) of Section 10733.6.

8(c) Notwithstanding subdivision (c) of Section 10733.6, a
9judgment or proposed stipulated judgment pursuant to this section
10may be submitted to the department after January 1, 2017.

11(d) A determination of the department on a submission pursuant
12to this section is subject to judicial review pursuant to Section
131085 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Venue shall be in the court
14with jurisdiction over the adjudication action and the case shall be
15coordinated with the adjudication action.

16

10737.6.  

If the department determines that a judgment satisfies
17the objectives of this part in accordance with paragraph (2) of
18subdivision (a) of Section 10737.4, the department shall submit
19to the court the assessments and any recommended corrective
20actions that the department issues pursuant to Section 10733.8.
21The court, after notice and, if necessary, an evidentiary hearing,
22shall determine whether to amend the judgment pursuant to Section
23852 of the Code of Civil Procedure to adopt the department’s
24recommended corrective actions.

25

10737.8.  

In addition to making any findings required by
26subdivision (a) of Section 850 of the Code of Civil Procedure or
27any other law, the court shall not approve entry of judgment in an
28adjudication action for a basin required to have a groundwater
29sustainability plan under this part unless the court finds that the
30judgment will not substantially impair the ability of a groundwater
31sustainability agency, the board, or the department to comply with
32this part and to achieve sustainable groundwater management.

33

SEC. 6.  

This act shall only become operative if Assembly Bill
341390 of the 2015-16 Regular Session is enacted and becomes
35effective.



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