For anyone looking to brush up on their general hydrology knowledge, or for those well-versed in earth sciences but looking for a refresher - UC Davis, UC Cooperative Extension, and UC Agricultural and Natural Resources provides a virtual course with a physical textbook providing a comprehensive overview of groundwater, watersheds, and groundwater sustainability plans (GSP’s). The course is facilitated by Dr. Thomas Harter, with a variety of speakers each week. Each speaker brings a diverse perspective from their corner of the hydrology industry, including, but not limited to - water monitoring, well drilling, GSP’s, California water law, Sustainable Management Criteria (SMC’s), The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), surface water-groundwater interactions, and beyond. In addition to a variety of speakers, the audience includes a variety of stakeholders and decision makers, making for engaging and thought-provoking discussion and questions around the weekly content.
The course springboards with a sprint across Hydrology 101 (surface water, groundwater must-know vocabulary and fundamental concepts). Tina Cannon Leahy, JD from the State Water Resources control Board (SWRCB) then spearheads a crash course on SGMA, including pre-SGMA groundwater management, the birth of the program, and SGMA as the Act currently stands. This discussion glides the surface level to touch on regulatory pathways, relevant water code, and adjudications. This high level overview is essential to anyone looking for a high level understanding of SGMA, while also diving deeper with proceeding case studies - you may find yourself repeating sections or bookmarking the entire lecture! A nice dive into applications / case study learnings follows. Once case study from the Yolo Subbasin is provided by Kristin Sicke, P.E., as learning content for Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) implementation. In addition to a background and overview of the Yolo GSP, a summary of projects and management actions (programs) and long-term policy considerations are discussed in detail.
This course is incredibly helpful for those striving to keep up with California’s alphabet of water policies—anyone directly affected by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), interested in learning more about their local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA’s), or desiring to build their knowledge and skills required for Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). Attendees can experience a very helpful walk-through of a large quantity and wide variety of data sources accessible to the public (i.e., SGMA Data Viewer, Class 4 / June 1 session). This data viewer provides a “groundwater encyclopedia”, covering breadth of statewide subsidence data, as well as the ability to dive deep into an individual well to better understand local lithology, well construction (a work in progress!), temporal data, and in some cases, statistical information gathered for wells with 10+ points. I would highly recommend the week 4 lesson for those new to the SGMA DataViewer. This portion of the course also provides a juxtaposition against the California Groundwater Data Viewer (hot tip - data filtering capabilities provided here, whereas unable to filter by date in SGMA DataViewer). Another notable moment - Bill Brewster takes you for a walk across the California Natural Resources Agency Open Data Platform, where you can peruse through groundwater extraction data, by water years. With recent merging of recent and periodic data into one open data set (hot off the press - data logger + hand collected data with an ability to sort and filter through an extensive collection of various data sets!). This specific guided hike through these resources was so helpful and knowledgeable, I recommend watching more than once! Additionally, Aaron Button leads a guide across the Groundwater Ambient Monitoring & Assessment (GAMA), including a live GAMA GIS demo of over 310,000 wells. This portion of the course is a fantastically efficient yet detailed tutorial for anyone looking for more hydrology datasets that could pair nicely with farm-level, irrigation district, or remotely sensed datasets.
If you find yourself intimated by the maze of water datasets accessible through the interwebs, or just know enough about California water spatial datasets to get yourself into trouble, this course will help to orient and equip yourself with a better footing before taking a dive into deeper hydro-informatics.
If you feel yourself developing a sense of FOMO from the above content and discussions, but missed the live attendance of this course - you still have time! Anyone interested in this course has until September 22, 2023 to register and will enjoy full access to the Zoom talks and course materials. Registration to the course provides recordings of the lectures and Q&A sessions to late registrants.