Friday September 2, 2022


California lawmakers punted on a proposal to rein in agricultural groundwater pumping as drought continues to grip California and more than a thousand domestic wells have run dry.  

A bill by Assembly member Steve Bennett, a Democrat from Santa Barbara, would have added hurdles to obtain a permit to drill an agricultural well. Though the bill cleared the Senate on Monday, Bennett elected to not bring it up for a final vote in the Assembly before the Legislative session timed out Wednesday night. He said California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office told him the bill was no longer viable because of changes made. 

During one of the driest years in recent history, California legislators did not pass any new laws that would boost the water supply or protect groundwater from overpumping, although funds were included in the budget for groundwater management and programs like water recycling. 

The bill would have been the biggest change to California’s groundwater management since the state’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was enacted in 2014, during the height of the last drought, said Roger Dickinson, a former Democratic assemblymember from Sacramento and one of the authors. 

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