The time is now for action to protect adequate water for Stanislaus County’s future. The drought, the new state law requiring a groundwater sustainability plan by 2020-22, and recent studies by the U.S. Geological Survey designating the Central Valley as having the fastest-sinking water level in the country necessitate swift action. As 80 percent of California’s water is used for agriculture, and that industry is expanding in our county, the need for more water is growing. The League of Women Voters of California supports policies that ensure the protection and efficient use of groundwater and setting standards for its management.
Over a year after the Stanislaus County Water Commission was formed, it is necessary for the Board of Supervisors to take a bold action by initiating a moratorium on expansion of agricultural wells. The groundwater ordinance adopted by the board does not go far enough, as it only affects wells outside irrigation districts. Permits for replacement wells should be granted, providing they do not increase in size. The moratorium should remain in place until the water supply is deemed sustainable.
Drastic cutbacks in domestic water use are being planned and implemented statewide while the state-required groundwater sustainability plans for agriculture, due by 2020/2022, might be too late. Urge your county supervisor to immediately invoke a moratorium on agricultural wells so that data can be gathered to determine the viability of existing and new wells and ultimately insure sustainable use of groundwater.
Seena Rhine, President, League of Women Voters of Stanislaus County