Historic Bill Met With Anxiety
On Tuesday, September 16th, Governor Jerry Brown signed 3 bills to regulate water pumped from underground in California. With the state in a historic drought and state leaders under pressure to kink hoses, this news won’t surprise many locals. The signing brings fear of the long arm of the government into the hearts of many farmers.
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Due to the exceptional drought that California is experiencing, residents have had many restrictions placed on their irrigation. We’ve cut down on the days we can water our lawns and gardens and face higher rates if we fail to keep our usage down. Many farm groups are concerned that when the new regulations are in place they won’t be allotted enough water to produce a fruitful crop. Fines implemented for excess water usage may drive up produce prices. Damages would be far-reaching as many of California’s farms feed the world.
Some farmers agree with the bills because they see it as a way to preserve farming. Worried that when the water runs out they’ll have to shut down or move out, they welcome regulations to conserve vital resources for a sustainable farming future. This change is one that has been discussed for a long time. California has been able to use as much well water as we’ve pleased without oversight until now, but that has accounted for up to 60% of the water used during a drought. As the underground water gets lower, so does our land which has a detrimental effect on bridges and water canals.
The new law requires local governments and water districts to begin managing their local wells and calls for state water agency intervention if necessary. Of course water metering and fines to monitor and enforce the restrictions are part of the package, as should be expected with any regulations.
SB1168, SB1319 and AB1739, written by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson and Senator Fran Pavley, passed despite objections from lawmakers and central valley democrats. These bills won’t help with the immediate crisis as they will require years to create and carry out management plans. Recovery of the state’s over-pumped water basins may not be seen until at least 2040.
Our own local farmers will have to plan ahead and work hard to survive the changes and continue to provide delicious food at good prices we find at such places as Boa Vista Orchards. Perhaps this is what is needed to continue as a bountiful agricultural state. Here’s hoping it doesn’t result in what many fear– a suppressed agricultural economy.
Find more information on local water regulations and how to conserve water on El Dorado Irrigation District’s website.
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