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California Senate Passes Groundwater Legislation

California Senate Passes Groundwater Legislation

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Senate has passed new groundwater regulations under Assembly Bill 1739 in a 26-11 vote.

Capital Public Radio reports that the bill would require local governments to set up groundwater management agencies. The agencies would have five years to implement a management plan and 20 years to reach sustainable groundwater levels.

The Sacramento Business Journal reports that during the floor vote on AB1739, Republican lawmakers echoed farming groups concerns that this policy is intrusive and has been rushed without proper vetting.

Sen. Tom Berryhill“A one-size-fit-all approach with the state deciding what’s best just doesn’t work for rural areas of California,” said Sen. Tom Berryhill, a Modesto Republican.  “To put together groundwater program in a week is insanity.  I just don’t get it.”

Opponents also voiced concerns that this new rule could conflict with existing property rights.  California landowners have had unlimited use of their groundwater since the Gold Rush days, according to the Associated Press.

Supporters of the legislation say that over-pumping has led to land subsidence, a major problem that contributes to crumbling infrastructure, and billions of dollars in damage to roads, aqueducts, canals and pipelines.

Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura HillsSen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills says, “We even have some canals where the water flows backward because of depressions in the canals’ streambeds.  We have a lot at stake.”

Stay tuned to AndNowUKnow for the latest updates as this legislation is taken up by the California Assembly.