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County needs more progressive groundwater regulations
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The time is now for action to protect adequate water for Stanislaus County’s future.  The continuing drought, State law requiring Groundwater Sustainability Agencies and Plans due by 2020 /2022 (GSAs and GSPs), and recent studies by the U.S. Geological Survey designating the Central Valley as  the fastest sinking water level in the country necessitate swift action by our leaders.  As 80 percent of the water used in California is directly used for agriculture and that industry is expanding in our county, the need for more water is growing.  The League of Women Voters of California supports policies that ensure the protection and efficient use of groundwater and setting standards of management for such groundwater.

 It has been over a year since the Stanislaus County Water Commission was formed, and while they are working toward some consensus, it is necessary for the Board of Supervisors to take a bold and necessary action by initiating a moratorium of agricultural expansion wells in the county. The groundwater ordinance adopted by the Board of Supervisors does not go far enough, as it only affects wells outside the current irrigation districts. Permits for replacement wells for private and farm use already in place should be granted, providing they do not increase the amount of water pulled from the aquifers.  Wells for urban use would have to be adequate for population growth.  The moratorium should remain in place until the water supply is deemed sustainable.

 On-going plans for drastic cutbacks in domestic water use are being planned and implemented statewide while state-required GSP’s for agriculture, due by 2020/2022, may be too late.   Contact our county supervisors and urge them to take immediate steps to implement a moratorium on agricultural expansion wells so that data can be gathered to determine the viability of existing and new wells and to ultimately insure sustainable use and management of  groundwater.

— Seena Rhine

President, League of Women Voters of Stanislaus County