Thursday April 28, 2022

San Joaquin Valley Water

Gov. Newsom’s emergency drought order that singled out agricultural wells for extra scrutiny is continuing to cause confusion and angst in some parts of the San Joaquin Valley, while other areas are stutter-stepping forward.

Selma raisin farmer Tony Panoo was happy to finally have his well drilled on Monday after several tense weeks when his permit application was stuck between Fresno County and the Central Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA), which covers his 20-acre vineyard.

“It relieves a lot of pressure,” said Panoo, who relies on the small farm as his only source of income and did not have an alternate source of water.

While that individual situation has been resolved, other areas are still struggling with how to comply with the order and avoid liability.

“Everybody’s scared of this executive order,” said Wes Harmon, a well driller with Big River Drilling in Fresno County. “There’s tons of permits that aren’t getting done because these GSAs aren’t moving.”

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