Supporters of groundwater reform unveil modified California state flag to illustrate need for action; Effort urges lawmakers to pass groundwater bills
From the California Water Foundation:
Heading into the final week of the state’s legislative session, the California Water Foundation unveiled a modified California state flag that features a desert camel instead of a grizzly bear to illustrate the severity of the state’s groundwater crisis and urge lawmakers to pass groundwater management legislation.
Over the course of the week, the Foundation will run print and online ads featuring the flag, calling on legislators to finish the job they started with the water bond by passing fair and sustainable groundwater protections. A social media engagement effort will encourage Californians to post and share the camel flag in a show of support for groundwater protection. Finally, the flag will also be distributed to all legislative offices with copies of the print ads.
“Groundwater is a critical resource for our state’s farms, towns and cities,” said Lester Snow, executive director of the California Water Foundation. “Until we effectively manage groundwater, our state’s economy, farms, and environment will remain in jeopardy. The fact is, we are living on borrowed water, and the system is no longer sustainable. We need passage of comprehensive groundwater management legislation so California has water for the long haul.”
The California Water Foundation launched the Groundwater Voices Coalition last month to show that voices across California all agree that we need action now to create a framework to better manage and protect our state’s precious groundwater supplies.
“Already, without effective groundwater management, whole communities are losing their water supply. In many areas, residential wells are bone dry, leaving families living out of buckets and water hauled from neighbors,” said Laurel Firestone, co-founder of the Community Water Center and one of the Groundwater Voices. “We cannot afford to wait any longer to start to control our groundwater resources.”
“As the leader of a company that is highly dependent upon groundwater, I strongly support managing this precious resource through a combination of local management operating within the context of statewide objectives and support. We must recognize that significant change in the way we utilize our groundwater is needed,” said Miles Reiter, chairman and chief executive officer of Driscoll’s Berries and one of the Groundwater Voices. “It is time to move forward with groundwater management.”
The California Water Foundation urges support for Senate Bill 1168 (Pavley) and Assembly Bill 1739 (Dickinson). These two complementary bills are working together to advance management of California’s groundwater resources. Specifically, these bills:
- Empower local agencies by providing them with the tools and technical assistance they need to sustainably manage their groundwater resources
- Provide sufficient time for local agencies to plan for and achieve sustainability goals
- Provide a limited backstop for the state to establish groundwater sustainability programs until local agencies can take over
- Exempt adjudicated basins, except for an annual reporting requirement
- Focus on phasing in basins that are at high risk of over draft
Lawmakers have until August 31 to move the legislation to the Governor’s desk.
California’s groundwater supply is used to meet approximately 40 percent of the state’s water demands in an average year and up to 60 percent or more during droughts. In some regions, groundwater provides 100 percent of the local water supply. Yet, California is the only western state without a comprehensive statewide groundwater management program.
In July, the California Water Foundation (CWF) released a report that showed management of California’s groundwater basins is fragmented, and many groundwater management plans are outdated and leave significant room for improvement. In May, CWF also released a report of findings and recommendations to achieve sustainable groundwater management in California. In July, the CWF created the Groundwater Voices Coalition, a unified effort to educate decision makers about the need for more effective and sustainable groundwater management.
About the California Water Foundation
The California Water Foundation’s (CWF) vision is to sustainably meet the water needs of California’s farms, cities, and environment today and into the future.CWF supports innovative projects and policies and brings together experts, stakeholders, and the public to achieve 21st century solutions. For more information, please visit CaliforniaWaterFoundation.org