Western Growers, and a coalition of 30 agriculture organizations, are asking Governor Jerry Brown to veto recently passed groundwater legislation. As Spotlight previously reported, in the final hours before it concluded its business for the year, the California Legislature 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.
Several late amendments helped make the bills more workable. Late amendments moved more of the oversight of the regulatory process to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) instead of the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). Other late amendments provide additional due process and more specificity guiding the manner in which the SWRCB must relinquish control of a basin following state intervention. Ag advocates were also successful in striking DWR fee authority from the bills.
However, the coalition remained very concerned about several aspects of the legislation. Among those are provisions linking groundwater pumping to alleged environmental harm in rivers, streams and other surface waters as well as language that calls into question the security of existing water rights. The agriculture coalition also objected to the failure of the Legislature to include a provision in the Brown Administration’s proposal that would declare the use of surface water to recharge a groundwater basin to be a beneficial use, and the failure of the Legislature to streamline water basin adjudications.
The Governor has until September 30 to act on these bills.
Start Growing Today
Farming has never been more challenging, which is why Western Growers invests in fully committed advocates – your advocates – in Sacramento, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. Only Western Growers offers members so many business services, supported by more than 400 dedicated employees.