Groundwater Bill Moving Despite Opposition
April 14, 2016
Despite opposition by CSAC, Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC), the League of California Cities (League), the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), individual counties, and numerous agricultural interests, the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee passed SB 1317, by Senator Lois Wolk.
As previously reported, this measure would require cities and counties that overlie high and medium priority basins to establish a process for the issuance of conditional use permits for new wells. It further specifies that all new well permits shall include conditions to avoid undesirable impacts to aquifers. The bill would also prohibit new well permits in basins of critical overdraft and basins that are in probationary status. The conditional use permit requirement would not apply to areas that have already adopted measures to protect aquifers. In addition, small yield wells and replacement wells would be exempted from the above requirements.
In a joint letter to the committee, CSAC, RCRC and the League indicate that SB 1317 would get ahead of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act’s (SGMA) planning process and would intervene in the local agency decision-making process which is a key element and foundation of SGMA. The three organizations also note that out of the 127 high and medium priority basins only 21 have been designated as being in critical overdraft and the legislation would impose requirements in areas that do not have a groundwater problem.
SB 1317 now moves to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee, where it will be heard on Wednesday, April 20. Affected counties are urged to send letters of opposition to the committee as soon as possible.