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Planning for Rainfall to Groundwater, Part 1: Watershed/ Catchment Analysis – Overview

This hands-on interdisciplinary studio is designed to support participants in integrating the Rainfall to Groundwater approach to increasing water available for recharge into their Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs).  

Why is this course essential?  

Because it offers to catalyze the most cost-effective approach to increasing water available for replenishment/ recharge/ sustainability of groundwater basins.  

Particularly those with large extents of nonnative annual grasslands (most rangelands) in the watersheds/ catchments feeding their groundwater basins.  But all Groundwater Sustainability Agencies should consider the catchment detention storage opportunities along restored streambanks and floodplains.  And  . . .

Because you will find no guidance on planning for restoring detention storage elsewhere.   

But, thanks to the California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act’s exemplary emphasis on local resolutions, you won’t find anything stopping you from adding this approach to your GSP portfolio.

Either the Rainfall to Groundwater Basics course or verified purchase of both books are prerequisite to this course, but the courses may be taken concurrently.  Like the basics course, the planning studio will be presented in an interdisciplinary style and encourages participants from all pertinent professional disciplines.  In fact, the more multidisciplinary the participants are, the more we will have to share with and stimulate one another.  That is precisely the “sweet spot” we seek!

While direct association with a California Groundwater Sustainability Agency is not required to participate in this course, the fundamental activity will be guided group consideration of environmental settings and issues faced by course participants in applying the Rainfall to Groundwater approach to their respective GSPs in development.  

The course includes online learning modules, like the Basics course, but emphasizes a studio approach, applying the lessons to participants’ own case examples, their Groundwater Sustainability Plans in progress.  Depending on the number of enrollees, we should be able to focus in on all pertinent watersheds/ catchments feeding groundwater basins of concern to participants.  The intention is to organize field trips to at least some of these sites..

We will address the following specific elements of California’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan requirements, by GSP Regulation, Section, Water Code Section, Requirement and Description:

Article 5. Plan Contents, Subarticle 1. Administrative Information     354.8(g); 10727.4;  Additional GSP Contents;  Description of Actions related to:  Replenishment of groundwater extractions; Impacts to groundwater dependent ecosystems   . . .


Article 5. Plan Contents, Subarticle 2. Basin Setting
354.18;  10727.2(a)(3); Water Budget Information;  Description of inflows, outflows, and change in storage   . . .


Article 5. Plan Contents, Subarticle 5. Projects and Management Actions   354.44;  Description of projects and management actions that will help achieve the basin’s sustainability goal

Enrollment includes one-year (renewable) subscription to the Rainfall Detention Planning Collaboratory, as well as the Rainfall Detention Council, private online forums; 2 small group Planning Collaboratory teleconferences per month, over 10 months (recorded for on-demand access), along with Rainfall Detention Council teleconferences;  eligible for field trips.  Ideally, some course participants will provide field trip venues, facilitating group consideration of their planning issues.

For course pre-enrollment details and deals see Course Pre-Enroll & Sponsorship Order

Watershed/ Catchment Characterization

  • Grok your watershed/ catchment
  • Watershed scale relative to size(s)/capacity(ies) of groundwater basin(s)
  • Physiographic features, their interrelations and how they affect catchment functions
  • Consideration of bedrock aquifers, upland wells
  • Incorporate pertinent catchment features into your Geographic Information System

Consider Historical Ecology

  • Potential insights into degraded spring functions
  • Potential insights into original vegetation
  • Potential insights into indigenous traditional ecological economics
  • Options for investigating watershed historical ecology  (Hint: Excellent opportunities for student interns.)

Water Budget Considerations Part 1:  Analysis  

  • Document inflows from entire catchment – include likely or known subsurface – not just surface inflows
  • Determine undocumented but likely subsurface flow patterns based on geologic, topographic patterns, seismic zones, other physiographic factors
  • Establish baseline watershed inflows
  • Establish baseline/current  groundwater demand


Develop & Prioritize Catchment Restoration Goals & Objectives with Stakeholders