The California Legislature has approved three measures that make up a package of groundwater regulation legislation. AB 1739 (Dickinson, D-Sacramento), SB 1168 (Pavley, D-Agoura Hills) and SB 1319 (Pavley) all passed with small margins as members from both parties objected to the complex content of the bills as well as the rush to pass them.
According to the EPA, litigation which made the agency defendants in a lawsuit brought by the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides and others has been settled. As the result of a stipulated injunction, the EPA is directed to reinstate a “no-spray” buffer zone to protect endangered or threatened Pacific salmon and steelhead. The buffer zones apply to waters that support salmon in California, Oregon and Washington and are imposed on the following pesticides: carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, malathion and methomyl.
Last night, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1471 into law, a $7.5 billion water bond bill that includes $2.7 billion for storage infrastructure. The measure, which replaces the $11.1 billion water bond passed by the Legislature in 2009, will appear as Proposition 1 this November. Earlier in the evening, both the California Assembly and Senate approved the bill in impressive fashion with votes of 77-2 and 37-0 respectively.
President and CEO of Western Growers Tom Nassif issued a statement applauding passage of the legislation:
Statement by President and CEO of Western Growers Tom Nassif on today’s passage of the $7.5 billion water bond legislation by the California Assembly and Senate:
“Western Growers applauds passage of legislation today by the California Assembly and Senate establishing a $7.5 billion water bond that includes $2.7 billion for storage. We are especially pleased that the storage portion of this legislation is a continuous appropriation preventing the legislature from withholding funding. Passage of this legislation is an essential first step in adding capacity to our state’s existing storage infrastructure.
This legislation replaces the existing bond slated for this November’s statewide ballot. Our Association will work diligently with Governor Jerry Brown to garner support for the initiative.
We commend members of both parties who came together to support compromise legislation critical not only for our growers, but for all of the state’s residents and water users.
Western Growers particularly appreciates Governor Brown’s leadership on this issue. We look forward to his support of this measure as we work together to gain voter approval for the initiative this November. “
Members of the Western Growers Board of Directors convened this week in Orange County under the leadership of Chairman Bruce Taylor to deliberate the top issues affecting the industry. High on the list of issues discussed were the drought and regulatory restrictions on water supply, food safety, labor union activities and immigration reform. Several standing committees featured guest speakers. Dr. Jay Famiglietti, a senior water cycle scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and David Orth, general manager of the Kings River Conservation District, presented to the Water Committee; Amy Wolfe, president and CEO of AgSafe, presented to the Labor Committee; and Dr. Jerry Baron, executive director of IR-4 presented to the Food Safety, Science & Technology Committee.
According to a study released by NASA and University of Irvine, California, the Colorado River Basin, the basin that contains the Southwest’s only major river and water source, has lost almost 53 million acre feet of water from December 2004 until November 2013. The amount represents a volume that is nearly double that of Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir. The most troubling aspect of the report is that the majority of the water loss --75% of the 53 million acre feet -- is from underground sources.