Stanislaus County water coalition changes name, broadens focus

01/07/2014 1:28 PM

01/07/2014 5:30 PM

A community group concerned about Stanislaus County’s water supply has changed its name, elected officers, scheduled a public meeting and started a political action fund.

The former Eastside Groundwater Coalition now calls itself the Stanislaus Water Coalition, which reflects its broadened focus, according to its newly elected president, Neil Hudson.

“We’re trying to bring together farmers and citizens to promote conservation and recharge of the aquifer,” Hudson said.

Concerns about overdrafting of the county’s groundwater basin, the recent surge in large agricultural irrigation wells and the continuing drought launched the group in the fall. Its initial public meeting in October drew hundreds of people, and a core group of community members has been meeting regularly since then.

The coalition recently formalized its organization by electing officers. Its board of directors includes Hudson, Sharon Getchel, John Booker, Gail Altieri, Mike Tozzi, Bill Smith, Joyce Reed, Emerson Johnson and Rita Clark.

The group also is forming a political action committee so it can raise and spend funds to advocate for its issues.

As part of its efforts to quantify Stanislaus’ groundwater situation, the coalition mapped the locations of the more than 200 new wells county officials approved from July 25 to Dec. 11. The map shows clusters of big irrigation wells going into rural land northeast of Oakdale and the far eastern edge of Stanislaus.

That map and other data are expected to be shared during the coalition’s town hall meeting at 7 p.m. March 18 at the Bianchi Community Center, 110 S. Second St., Oakdale.

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