Bills to regulate California groundwater use opposed by farmers

A package of bills aimed at regulating drought-parched California’s stressed groundwater supplies has come under fire from agricultural interests, injecting doubt into the measures’ fates in the waning days of the state’s legislative session this week. The bills, which would allow the state to take over management of underground aquifers and water accessed via wells, tighten oversight of water at a time when groundwater levels are shrinking in the third year of a catastrophic drought. “If we don’t get started on fixing this problem we are going to find ourselves in a very dire situation, especially if drought persists,” said Andrew Fahlund, deputy director of the California Water Foundation, which supports the two bills in the package. Farmers in California’s agricultural breadbasket rely on water from wells to irrigate their crops when the state cuts back on supplies from streams and the fragile San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta.

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