This just in … Bill package to protect groundwater supplies passes California Assembly

From the office of Senator Fran Pavley:

pavley“Today, the California Assembly passed a bill package by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) and Assemblymember Dickinson to sustainably manage California’s groundwater for the first time. The three bill package including SB 1168 (Pavley), SB 1319 (Pavley) and AB 1739 (Dickinson) would initiate groundwater sustainability planning and programs for California’s most critical basins.

“Over 75 percent of Californians, about 30 million people, rely on groundwater for a portion of their drinking water, with some communities relying on groundwater for 100 percent of their drinking water,” Senator Pavley said. “And in a growing number of communities, this limited resource is about to disappear.”

Groundwater makes up about 40 percent of California’s water in normal years and up to 60 percent during droughts. Unlike surface water from lakes, rivers and streams, California’s groundwater is not systematically managed or regulated. Groundwater is being pumped faster than it can be replenished, a condition known as “overdraft” that causes sinking land (“subsidence”), damage to infrastructure, increased costs for farmers and residents who have to drill deeper wells, water contamination, impairment of underground water storage and other problems.

Advancing the bill package moves California closer to establishing a framework for local and regional groundwater management providing for the creation of local and regional groundwater sustainability agencies throughout the state.

“These bills take the much needed steps to preserve and restore a limited and indispensable resource—groundwater,” Senator Pavley said.

SB 1168 and SB 1319 will now go to the Senate for concurrence. “

Here’s coverage from the Oakland Tribune:

California passes historic groundwater legislation

“The state Assembly today narrowly approved a package of bills designed to regulate the pumping of groundwater in California for the first time in state history and make the most significant changes to state water law in 50 years.

Democrats acted on the bills over the strong objections of lawmakers from both parties who represent the Central Valley, where farmers who are struggling to survive the current drought have been pumping an increasing amount of groundwater to irrigate their crops.

“Mark Twain famously said, ‘Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over.’ Certainly we have had our fair share of fights over water,” said Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, the sponsor of one bill. … ”

Read more from the Oakland Tribune here: California Assembly passes historic groundwater legislation




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