CA Governor Signs First Groundwater Legislation

Tue. September 16th, 2014
- by Andrew McDaniel     

SACRAMENTO, CA – California Governor Jerry Brown signed the state’s first groundwater management legislation yesterday.

This signing comes after SB1168, SB1319 and AB1738 passed in the final days of the legislative session over objections from Republican lawmakers and Central Valley Democrats.

Barry Bedwell, President of the California Fresh Fruit Association, spoke to AndNowUKnow about the new legislation.  “It is certainly no surprise that the Governor sees the need to enact this legislation.  We don’t argue the need for groundwater management and overall sustainability.  The real problem here is that a system has been created without proper input from all of the segments who are going to be impacted.  This will have serious impacts on California for decades and decades to come,” Barry said.

“We are all going to do our best to move forward, but this has created a situation where lots of questions, legal and otherwise, will absolutely have to be answered,” he added.

The Associate Press (AP) reports that the new law will require some local governments and water districts to begin managing their wells, as well as authorizing state water agencies to intervene, if necessary.  It will also allow for water metering and fines to monitor and enforce restrictions.

The AP quotes Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, as saying, “While there is legitimate concern about the over-drafting of some groundwater basins, this massive expansion of state authority will not solve the problem.”

The new laws will take effect in January of 2015 and will target areas where groundwater basins are being depleted faster than they are being replenished to be sustainable by 2040, according to the AP.  It will give local land planners two years to create a groundwater sustainability agency, which will then have up to five years to develop a plan for managing wells and pumping.  If those communities fail to abide by the rules, the state Water Resources Control Board will step in and develop the plans.

Stay tuned to AndNowUKnow as we continue to cover this legislation and what it will mean for the produce industry.