Groundwater worthy of coverage

October 1, 2013 

The Modesto Bee is to be complimented and commended for its coverage of the difficult issues surrounding groundwater use (and abuse), both locally and statewide. Jeff Jardine’s Sept.19 column on the subject is one example of The Bee’s excellent coverage.

There are two fundamental facts that underlie all California groundwater issues. First, groundwater accounts for about 30 percent of all water consumed in California. Second, California is just about the only state that has no state-level method of groundwater monitoring, management and regulation.

The fact that Stanislaus County is belatedly moving toward a county ordinance is good, as your Sept.22 editorial says. But as Jardine’s column points out, groundwater tends to follow horizontal patterns. And, groundwater basins don’t coincide with county boundaries. So, even if Stanislaus County starts managing its groundwater, a deep-pocketed pumper across the county line could delete the groundwater under Stanislaus County.

That’s why some system of state-level monitoring, management and regulation is needed; otherwise we risk badly depleting 30 percent of our water supply. Sadly, selfish interests in the southern part of the Valley, particularly the Westlands Water District, have used political muscle to oppose sensible state legislation regulating groundwater extraction.

JERRY CADAGAN

Sonora

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