Local California water agencies would be able to establish rules governing groundwater use for the first time under a bill that passed an Assembly committee Tuesday.
Backers of the bill say years of ground water over-pumping has led to wells drying up around the state and has also depleted surface water supplies. Maurice Hall is with the Nature Conservancy.
Hall: “Just in the Sacramento Valley portion of the Central Valley, groundwater pumping that’s been initiated just in the last 40 to 50 years, has reduced surface flow in the Sacramento River by 1 million acre feet.”
Supporters of the bill say new groundwater rules must incorporate conservation, recycling and storage programs.
Danny Merkley with the California Farm Bureau Federation says the state should take time to think through its groundwater management plan even in a time of drought.
Merkley: “We need to work through this and keep working through this regardless of arbitrary deadlines.”
The bill now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.