On November 28, Sam Sandoval, associate professor at the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis, gave the inaugural conference at the seminar “Governance of Groundwater in Water Management”, organized by the Chilean Sector A.G of the Latin American Association of Groundwater Hydrology for Development (ALHSUD by its acronym in Spanish).
Doctor Sandoval commented on the experience of the governance of groundwater in California and the creation in 2014 of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), due to the severe drought undergone by that State between 2012 and 2017. Sandoval, who is also a specialist in water management of the Cooperative Extension for Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of California, explains that in one of his papers for the SGMA is the “first comprehensive legislative effort to reform groundwater management in the state of California after years of uncoordinated and voluntary governance of this resource.”
During his talk, Sandoval, a civil engineer from the National Polytechnic Institute (México), commented that during the drought, not only was groundwater scarce, but also that it was contaminated with nitrate. Moreover, its excessive pumping over the past decades had caused large land subsidence and the pumping in coastal aquifers generated the advance inland of the saltwater wedge, a phenomenon known as seawater intrusion (in extreme cases the saltwater can fill the whole aquifer).
Sandoval presented a broad outline of the SGMA and the six undesirable results it seeks to avoid for which the Californians established indicators, benchmarks and thresholds: the reduction of groundwater storage, chronic lowering of groundwater levels, land subsidence, seawater intrusion, water quality degradation and adverse impact on surface water beneficial uses.
The specialist ended his presentation commenting his work in the Ukiah Valley (northwest California) whose aim was to develop the hydrological characterization of the Ukiah Valley groundwater basin as a fundamental input for groundwater management efforts.
Doctor Sandoval will collaborate with UC Davis Chile in projects related to water management, an issue of increasing relevance in Chile.