Governor Signs Draconian Groundwater Laws

Jim Nielsen
State Senator, Fourth Senate District, which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity and Yuba

Governor Jerry Brown signed a package of groundwater legislation – Assembly Bill 1739, Senate Bill 1168 and Senate Bill 1319 – that were put together in the back rooms of the Capitol. These bills were continually amended and tweaked up until the final moments of passage in the late hours of the legislative session.

It is unfortunate that the Governor felt compelled to sign this groundwater management scheme that was hastily cobbled together without regard to historical legal precedent and private property water rights.

Californians who rely on groundwater will now have to deal with not only new and unaccountable government agencies that will police water usage; they will be at the mercy of these faceless bureaucrats who will impose unknown fees and fines.

With the stroke of his pen today, the Governor changed over 100 years of water laws — without the people’s input. This is not the democracy Californians deserve.

We need to address the overdraft problems in specific regions of the state. This can be accomplished through good local management and groundwater recharge. The state can play a big role working with local government. This should include local government and citizen input. This should be our approach, rather than giving dictatorial control to state agencies.

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