El Rio Ponds


Groundwater – the fresh water that fills and moves between the voids in rocks, silt and other material in aquifers – has sustained the local agricultural community for nearly two centuries. Beginning in the 1800s, wells were drilled into the aquifers to access this water for irrigation.

As the area grew, years of increased pumping caused water levels in the aquifer to drop below sea level, resulting in saltwater intrusion into those invaluable aquifers. This salty, brackish water contaminated the groundwater and made it unsuitable for agriculture or municipal uses.

Saltwater intrusion primarily affects a 23-square-mile area of the Oxnard aquifer from Point Mugu north to the Santa Clara River, referred to as the Oxnard Forebay. UWCD is focused on combatting this problem.

While the region receives annual rainfall of 5 to 45 inches, it is often not enough to replace the almost 200,000 acre-feet of water pumped from area wells each year. United adds a significant amount of high-quality water each year to underground aquifers (the amount dependent on local rainfall) to ensure adequate supplies during dry periods.

Grand Canal Gates

Since 1984, United has invested more than $50 million in long-term sustainability efforts such as the Freeman Diversion and the Pumping Trough Pipeline, and imports 5,000 acre-feet of State Water per year to replenish groundwater.

Together, these projects add an average of 60,000 acre-feet of fresh water annually to the basins and help reverse the effects of seawater intrusion.


The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is a landmark law passed in 2014 to stop the over pumping of groundwater in critically over drafted basins in California by 2040.

Under the law, local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) must be formed for all high- and medium-priority basins in the state. The GSAs must develop and implement Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) for sustainably managing and using groundwater without causing undesirable results: significant groundwater-level declines, groundwater-storage reductions, seawater intrusion, water-quality degradation, land subsidence, and surface-water depletions.

On April 1, 2015, the United Water Board of Directors held a workshop in Fillmore to begin discussions about local requirements under the Act. Below are videos and presentations from that meeting.

Saticoy Grounds


DWR Groundwater Sustainability Program Draft Strategic Plan

MARCH 2015
This plan outlines the California Department of Water Resources’ role and responsibilities under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. It also details Plan goals and objectives to guide local agencies.

Saticoy Recharge Basins


Project Benefits and Costs

This presentation provides updates on multiple sustainability projects and their benefits and costs.


The Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency (FCGMA) was created by the California Legislature in 1982 as an independent special district, separate from the County of Ventura or any city government or other public agency, to oversee Ventura County’s vital groundwater resources.

The FCGMA manages and protects both confined and unconfined aquifers within several groundwater basins underlying the southern portion of Ventura County.

All lands lying above the deep Fox Canyon aquifer account for more than half of the water needs for 700,000 people in the cities of Ventura, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Camarillo and Moorpark, and the unincorporated communities of Saticoy, El Rio, Somis, Moorpark Home

Acres, Nyeland Acres, Leisure Village, Point Mugu and Montalvo. Strict water conservation measures protect the Oxnard Plain from over pumping by agricultural users and local water agencies.


The Fillmore and Piru Basins Groundwater Sustainability Agency is a joint powers authority comprised of United Water Conservation District, County of Ventura, and City of Fillmore.

United is authorized under the California Water Code to conduct water resource investigations, acquire water rights, build facilities to store and recharge water, construct wells and pipelines for water deliveries, commence actions involving water rights and water use, and prevent interference with or diminution of stream/river flows and their associated natural subterranean supply of water (California Water Code, section 74500 et al.). The County of Ventura exercises water management and land use authority on land overlying the entire county, including the Fillmore and Piru Basins. The City of Fillmore exercises water supply, water management, and land use authority within the city’s boundaries.


The Mound Basin spans from downtown Ventura to approximately Kimball Road between the foothills on the north and the Oxnard Basin on the south.

In June 2017, the Mound Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MBGSA) was formed and began working on studies that will be used to help develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). The GSP, which is required under SGMA, will be designed to maintain or achieve sustainable groundwater conditions within 20 years. Following adoption, the GSP will be submitted to the California Department of Water Resources on or before January of 2022 for review.

The agency has five board members: one elected Director from United Water Conservation District; two appointed managers from City of Ventura Water and the County of Ventura; and two public members representing agricultural and environmental interests. Development of the GSP began in late 2019 and the MBGSA Board of Directors has approved contracts with three entities that will team to prepare the GSP. UWCD staff will prepare the primary technical components of the GSP, leveraging the District’s prior studies, groundwater modeling, and groundwater monitoring program.

Ventura Pier