Groundwater Law

Is groundwater essential to your success?

Existing and future land development in some parts of California depends entirely on groundwater. Statewide, groundwater meets 40 percent of water needs in average years and up to 60 percent in critically dry years.

Government is tightening regulation of groundwater use in response to intensifying demand. The state's new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act ("SGMA") took effect January 1, 2015. The state has ranked 127 groundwater basins as high or medium priority under the Act. Cities, counties or water agencies in high- and medium-priority basins must adopt regulatory plans to correct or prevent groundwater overdraft. Depending on local circumstances, the plans might prohibit new wells, monitor and cut pumping, and impose fees. Starting in 2020, the state will review local plans to determine whether to impose more restrictive state pumping regulations.

Meanwhile, groundwater disputes are on the rise. Entire groundwater basins are being adjudicated to determine pumping rights that divide a basin’s safe yield among competing users. One pending environmental lawsuit seeks to prohibit local well-drilling permits unless surface streams are protected from effects of groundwater pumping. And groundwater impacts are receiving more attention during California Environmental Quality Act review.

Whether you face development of local groundwater regulations, a basinwide groundwater adjudication, or CEQA review of a project’s groundwater impacts, Kronick’s team of water lawyers has the experience and technical expertise to help you.

Please see our Water and Natural Resources Law practice for further information and additional services we provide to our clients.

Our Scope of Services

  • SGMA -- advise clients on sustainability agency designations, plan development and coordination in multi-agency basins and plan litigation
  • Groundwater rights adjudications -- represent clients in litigation determining basin groundwater rights and work with watermasters carrying out adjudication judgments
  • Well-interference disputes -- help clients negotiate and litigate well-interference claims
  • CEQA compliance -- assist clients with CEQA review of groundwater impacts and defend or bring litigation challenging CEQA compliance
  • Groundwater banking transactions -- investigate banking programs, negotiate banking agreements, negotiate transfers of banked water
  • Water transfers -- assess and negotiate water transfers and obtain required approvals
  • Water supply due diligence -- assess and document groundwater availability to support land acquisition and investment decisions
  • Groundwater cleanup
  • Finding expert consultants -- connecting clients to technical experts in groundwater investigation, modeling, engineering, project finance and other fields