Governor Signs Historic Groundwater Legislation
California is at long last leaving the Wild West behind when it comes to managing groundwater. We applaud Governor Brown’s signing today of four groundwater related bills. The Pavley-Dickinson Package is made up of three critical and far-reaching pieces of legislation that will positively change the face of groundwater management in California.
A key element of these bills is the understanding that management of groundwater should be done at the local level. These measures give local agencies the necessary powers, tools, and incentives to achieve local groundwater sustainability, while protecting property rights. The state encourages local control and will offer guidance and technical support, being a backstop when and if local agencies are unsuccessful in carrying out their groundwater management responsibilities. Objectives and benchmarks are outlined along with a timetable for executing a groundwater sustainability plan.
- 2017: Local groundwater management agencies must be appointed or created
- 2020: Groundwater sustainability plan must be adopted for all overdrafted basins
- 2022: High and medium priority basins not currently in overdraft must have sustainability plans
- 2040: Achievement of sustainability for all high and medium priority groundwater basins
We are gratified that the fourth groundwater related bill signed by Governor Brown today was AB 2453. This permits a local water district to be formed for the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin with a “hybrid” board of directors, allowing local, flexible representation that gives everyone a voice while allowing no single person or group to control the board.
The question is no longer “Are we going to have a management structure for the basin?” but “Who will be the face of the management structure for the basin?” Who better than locally-elected people who live and work here, have a direct and vested interest in management of our common resource, and have the focus and accountability needed?
It’s time to rally behind creating a locally-managed water district with a hybrid board of directors for the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. We have to begin the work of managing our precious, common resource. Our lives, property values, livelihoods, and ability to enjoy this beautiful place in which we live depend on it.