GSP Regulations Provisions Related to Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems

GDEs are referenced in the Groundwater Sustainability Plan Regulations in the terms groundwater dependent ecosystems, beneficial uses and users of groundwater, beneficial uses and users of interconnected surface water, and water use sectors. A compilation of the relevant sections follows:

§ 351. Definitions

The definitions in the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, Bulletin 118, and Subchapter 1 of this Chapter, shall apply to these regulations. In the event of conflicting definitions, the definitions in the Act govern the meanings in this Subchapter. In addition, the following terms used in this Subchapter have the following meanings:

  • (m) “Groundwater dependent ecosystem” refers to ecological communities or species that depend on groundwater emerging from aquifers or on groundwater occurring near the ground surface.
  • (al) “Water use sector” refers to categories of water demand based on the general land uses to which the water is applied, including urban, industrial, agricultural, managed wetlands, managed recharge, and native vegetation.

§ 354.8. Description of Plan Area

Each Plan shall include a description of the geographic areas covered, including the following information:

  • (a) One or more maps of the basin that depict the following, as applicable:

    • (4) Existing land use designations and the identification of water use sector and water source type.

§ 354.10. Notice and Communication

Each Plan shall include a summary of information relating to notification and communication by the Agency with other agencies and interested parties including the following:

  • (a) A description of the beneficial uses and users of groundwater in the basin, including the land uses and property interests potentially affected by the use of groundwater in the basin, the types of parties representing those interests, and the nature of consultation with those parties.

§ 354.16. Groundwater Conditions

Each Plan shall provide a description of current and historical groundwater conditions in the basin, including data from January 1, 2015, to current conditions, based on the best available information that includes the following:

  • (d) Groundwater quality issues that may affect the supply and beneficial uses of groundwater, including a description and map of the location of known groundwater contamination sites and plumes.
  • (g) Identification of groundwater dependent ecosystems within the basin, utilizing data available from the Department, as specified in Section 353.2, or the best available information.

§ 354.18. Water Budget

  • (b) The water budget shall quantify the following, either through direct measurements or estimates based on data:
    • (3) Outflows from the groundwater system by water use sector, including evapotranspiration, groundwater extraction, groundwater discharge to surface water sources, and subsurface groundwater outflow.
  • (e) Each Plan shall rely on the best available information and best available science to quantify the water budget for the basin in order to provide an understanding of historical and projected hydrology, water demand, water supply, land use, population, climate change, sea level rise, groundwater and surface water interaction, and subsurface groundwater flow. If a numerical groundwater and surface water model is not used to quantify and evaluate the projected water budget conditions and the potential impacts to beneficial uses and users of groundwater, the Plan shall identify and describe an equally effective method, tool, or analytical model to evaluate projected water budget.

§ 354.26. Undesirable Results

  • (b) The description of undesirable results shall include the following:
    • (3) Potential effects on the beneficial uses and users of groundwater, on land uses and property interests, and other potential effects that may occur or are occurring from undesirable results.

§ 354.28. Minimum Thresholds

  • (b) The description of minimum thresholds shall include the following:
    • (4) How minimum thresholds may affect the interests of beneficial uses and users of groundwater or land uses and property interests.
  • (c) Minimum thresholds for each sustainability indicator shall be defined as follows:
    • (6) Depletions of Interconnected Surface Water. The minimum threshold for depletions of interconnected surface water shall be the rate or volume of surface water depletions caused by groundwater use that has adverse impacts on beneficial uses of the surface water and may lead to undesirable results. The minimum threshold established for depletions of interconnected surface water shall be supported by the following:

§ 354.34. Monitoring Network

  • (b) Each Plan shall include a description of the monitoring network objectives for the basin, including an explanation of how the network will be developed and implemented to monitor groundwater and related surface conditions, and the interconnection of surface water and groundwater, with sufficient temporal frequency and spatial density to evaluate the affects and effectiveness of Plan implementation. The monitoring network objectives shall be implemented to accomplish the following:
    • (2) Monitor impacts to the beneficial uses or users of groundwater.
  • (c) Each monitoring network shall be designed to accomplish the following for each sustainability indicator:
    • (6) Depletions of Interconnected Surface Water. Monitor surface water and groundwater, where interconnected surface water conditions exist, to characterize the spatial and temporal exchanges between surface water and groundwater, and to calibrate and apply the tools and methods necessary to calculate depletions of surface water caused by groundwater extractions. The monitoring network shall be able to characterize the following:
      • (D) Other factors that may be necessary to identify adverse impacts on beneficial uses of the surface water.
  • (f) The Agency shall determine the density of monitoring sites and frequency of measurements required to demonstrate short-term, seasonal, and long-term trends based upon the following factors:
    • (3) Impacts to beneficial uses and users of groundwater and land uses and property interests affected by groundwater production, and adjacent basins that could affect the ability of that basin to meet the sustainability goal.

§ 354.38. Assessment and Improvement of Monitoring Network

  • (e) Each Agency shall adjust the monitoring frequency and density of monitoring sites to provide an adequate level of detail about site-specific surface water and groundwater conditions and to assess the effectiveness of management actions under circumstances that include the following:
    • (3) Adverse impacts to beneficial uses and users of groundwater.

§ 355.4. Criteria for Plan Evaluation

  • (b) The Department shall evaluate a Plan that satisfies the requirements of Subsection (a) to determine whether the Plan, either individually or in coordination with other Plans, complies with the Act and substantially complies with the requirements of this Subchapter. Substantial compliance means that the supporting information is sufficiently detailed and the analyses sufficiently thorough and reasonable, in the judgment of the Department, to evaluate the Plan, and the Department determines that any discrepancy would not materially affect the ability of the Agency to achieve the sustainability goal for the basin, or the ability of the Department to evaluate the likelihood of the Plan to attain that goal. When evaluating whether a Plan is likely to achieve the sustainability goal for the basin, the Department shall consider the following:
    • (4) Whether the interests of the beneficial uses and users of groundwater in the basin, and the land uses and property interests potentially affected by the use of groundwater in the basin, have been considered.

§ 356.2. Annual Reports

Each Agency shall submit an annual report to the Department by April 1 of each year following the adoption of the Plan. The annual report shall include the following components for the preceding water year:

  • (b) A detailed description and graphical representation of the following conditions of the basin managed in the Plan:
    • (2) Groundwater extraction for the preceding water year. Data shall be collected using the best available measurement methods and shall be presented in a table that summarizes groundwater extractions by water use sector, and identifies the method of measurement (direct or estimate) and accuracy of measurements, and a map that illustrates the general location and volume of groundwater extractions.
    • (4) Total water use shall be collected using the best available measurement methods and shall be reported in a table that summarizes total water use by water use sector, water source type, and identifies the method of measurement (direct or estimate) and accuracy of measurements. Existing water use data from the most recent Urban Water Management Plans or Agricultural Water Management Plans within the basin may be used, as long as the data are reported by water year.