Open letter to County Supervisor Jim DeMartini:
It was with great relief that I read The Bee’s headline, “Well-drilling moratorium urged” (Sept. 25, Page A1). Everyone I know has been waiting for some sort of common sense to prevail on this issue. As much as we would have liked for the county’s Water Advisory Committee to have shown some foresight, when you ask foxes to watch the henhouse what can you expect? Once we learned who was on the committee, it was obvious no serious strategies would be forthcoming.
I do not envy your responsibility in this matter. The question I would like asked of supervisors Vito Chiesa and Terry Withrow is: What if we have another year or two of this drought and water is pulled out of the ground even faster than at the present rate? Are they so irresponsible they would put our entire county at risk of financial collapse?
When there are possibilities of danger, rational people buy insurance. Instituting a moratorium is cheap insurance. All new wells should stop. Period. This state has been living in la-la land when it comes to our water situation. People need to understand that the water under each property does not belong to us as individuals, any more than the air above.
When I was on the Hughson City Council, we approved some subdivisions but then discovered that our building codes were outdated and allowing building would harm our residents and the larger community. We instated a building moratorium until we knew for sure we could proceed safely. Our moratorium made some builders angry, but it was the right thing to do. They are now building happily; they just didn’t get to do it when they had planned.
That is exactly what needs to be done here. Until we know for certain that we are not in danger of running out of water or of having aquifers collapse, not one more new well should be drilled.
Every drop that comes out of the rivers, canals and ground should be accounted for. Every well in the state should be monitored, and that information should be made public. The Wild West has passed, and it’s no longer every man for himself.
Thanks, Jim, for being courageous enough to use what my father always called “good, old-fashioned horse sense.”
Barbara Swier, Hughson