Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed a package of three bills that establishes a new structure for managing groundwater in the state. According to the Governor’s press release, AB 1739, SB 1168 and SB 1319 “create a framework for sustainable, local groundwater management for the first time in California history.” Western Growers and numerous agriculture groups opposed the collective of bills and recently sent a letter to the governor asking for a veto of the package.
Though he signed the package into law, today’s action was accompanied by a “signing message” that addressed two key issues of concern for Western Growers.
Specifically, on the issue of limiting the state’s intervention of groundwater oversight, the governor said, “A central feature of these bills is the recognition that groundwater management in California is best accomplished locally. Local agencies will now have the power to assess the conditions of the local groundwater basins and take the necessary steps to bring those basins in a state of chronic long-term overdraft into balance.
The State’s primary role is to provide guidance and technical support on how to plan for a more sustainable future and to step in on an interim basis when, but only when, local agencies fail to exercise their responsibilities as set forth in this legislation.”
The governor’s message also addressed the need for a legislative remedy to streamline judicial adjudications saying, “Further, I will submit for legislative consideration during the next session a proposal to streamline judicial adjudications of groundwater rights.”
WG and other industry representatives met with Administration officials to discuss implementation issues as well as possible follow up legislation.
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