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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Devil is in the Data: The Role of Science, Data, and Models in California's Historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

  • Author(s): Christian-Smith, Juliet
  • Alvord, Adrienne
  • et al.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (SGMA) set a goal to achieve sustainable management of California's groundwater resources by 2040, yet it left many of the details of its implementation to be worked out through subsequent regulations. Arguably, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) developed the most important of these regulations this year regarding how the state should evaluate local Groundwater Sustainability Plans. Despite their importance, these regulations have received little media attention or independent review. Here, we offer our independent analysis of a key aspect of the regulations, focusing on the role of science, data, and models that will be critical for SGMA's material and institutional success. In particular, we draw on our previously published research regarding sustainability metrics (Christian-Smith and Abhold 2015), the role of stakeholders (Dobbin et al. 2015), and the importance of good governance (Kiparsky et al. 2016). We conclude with a series of general principles for ensuring scientific transparency.

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