California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring (CASGEM)
The California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring (CASGEM) program is a voluntary program coordinated by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) wherein local monitoring entities collect groundwater elevation data and provide the data to DWR. DWR then consolidates data from across the state and makes it available to the public. MCWRA is an active participant in the CASGEM program.
On November 4, 2009 the State Legislature amended the Water Code with SBx7-6, which mandates a statewide groundwater elevation monitoring program to track seasonal and long-term trends in groundwater elevations in California’s groundwater basins. In accordance with this amendment to the Water Code, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) developed the California Statewide Groundwater Monitoring (CASGEM) program. The intent of the CASGEM program is to establish a permanent, locally-managed program of regular and systematic monitoring in all of California’s alluvial groundwater basins. (Department of Water Resources)
MCWRA is the designated Monitoring Entity for seven high- and medium-priority groundwater basins in Monterey County. Santa Cruz County Environmental Health Services and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District are also Monitoring Entities for some of the groundwater basins in Monterey County.
DWR prioritized California’s 515 groundwater basins and, as of June 2014, determined that monitoring would be focused on the high and medium priority basins due to limited resources. In addition to the seven basins currently monitored by MCWRA, there are also three low- or very-low priority groundwater basins in Monterey County that will be monitored at a later date: Cholame Valley, Lockwood Valley, and Peach Tree Valley Groundwater Basins.
MCWRA developed a Monitoring Plan to meet the requirements of the CASGEM program, which DWR has approved. The Monitoring Plan details how the CASGEM program will be implemented in those groundwater basins for which MCWRA is the designated monitoring entity.
The monitoring network comprises 48 wells, some of which are owned by MCWRA and others that are privately owned but whose owners have volunteered the well for inclusion in the CASGEM program. Wells in the monitoring network are located throughout the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin, though some basins have “data gaps,” where MCWRA continues to seek additional wells for inclusion in the monitoring network.
Under the approved Monitoring Plan, MCWRA will:
- collect groundwater elevation data at least two times each year,
- report the groundwater elevation data to DWR,
- continue to seek additional wells to fill existing data gaps, and
- update the Monitoring Plan when wells are added to or removed from the program.