Stanislaus County supervisors could form advisory committee on groundwater

kcarlson@modbee.comDecember 15, 2013 

— Stanislaus County leaders on Tuesday could establish the general makeup of a 20-member advisory committee to work on groundwater policies.

The condition of local aquifers became a critical issue this year, prompting county leaders to approve the first groundwater ordinance in October.

The Water Advisory Committee will continue the effort by working on needs assessments, groundwater priorities and policies for protecting a resource used to irrigate crops and supply drinking water to cities. It will serve as an advisory panel for the Board of Supervisors.

A consent item on Tuesday’s board agenda outlines the proposed makeup of the committee. Members will include the chairman of the Board of Supervisors, the chairman of the Agricultural Advisory Committee, the Farm Bureau’s executive director and two members from the community at large. In addition, the five county supervisors each will nominate three members to the committee.

According to the proposed guidelines, appointees could include irrigation district board members or representatives of cities, the drilling industry, business, commerce, agriculture or other sectors. Vacancies will be filled with approval from county supervisors.

The advisory committee members will be appointed to serve for two years. A rotation will be created by assigning some members to one-year terms initially, a report says.

In October, supervisors also created a water resources manager position that will oversee the panel’s work. The advisory committee is expected to hold public meetings.

County staff is proposing that a nonvoting, 10-member committee provide technical assistance to the advisory panel. The technical committee would include representatives from irrigation districts and the cities of Modesto, Turlock, Oakdale and Patterson.

County supervisors could establish the advisory committee at its regular meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto. They also will consider these items:

• A public hearing on fire code updates.

• A request for increased appropriations of $1.6 million to fund legal expenses and settlement costs for several court cases.

• An agreement to cooperate with a state effort to reduce the sale of stolen metal. Effective Jan. 1, Senate Bill 485 will require junk dealers and recyclers to furnish more information when applying for or renewing a weighmaster license. The law creates an additional $500 license fee so the state can pay county offices to perform inspections.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.

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