Community Water Center

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Tribes, Fishermen, and EJ Groups Encouraged by New Groundwater Laws

September 16, 2014

Sara Aminzadeh, California Coastkeeper Alliance, 415-794-8422 (cell),
Jenny Rempel, Community Water Center, 916-706-3346 (office), 559-284-6327 (cell),


California Tribes, Fishermen, and Environmental Justice Groups Encouraged by Governor Signature of Groundwater Reform Package

Groups Focus on Swift Implementation During Worst Recorded Drought in History 

Sacramento, CA – Today, Governor Brown signed a package of groundwater bills (Assembly Bill 1739, Senate Bill 1168, and Senate Bill 1319) that will establish a framework for more sustainable groundwater management in California.  California’s existing laws provide little protection for communities and ecosystems that rely upon groundwater.  The three bills require the development of groundwater sustainability plans in high and medium priority basins, and require that those plans set enforceable goals to achieve sustainable groundwater management.  One of the worst droughts in recorded history created a sense of urgency that paved the way for unprecedented groundwater reforms in California.  Fishing groups, tribes, and environmental justice organizations now urge swift action to implement the long-overdue reforms of California’s groundwater management.

In response, the following individuals and organizations issued the following statements:

Konrad Fisher, Klamath Riverkeeper: “Unregulated groundwater extraction has been depleting our streams and rivers for too long. This legislation alone will not protect ecosystems from excessive groundwater extraction, but it's a historic step in the right direction. Now it’s the responsibility of local groundwater managers to protect ecosystems and surface water right holders from excessive groundwater withdrawals.”

Leaf Hillman, Director of the Karuk Tribe’s Department of Natural Resources: “We can’t sit idly by while water is literally sucked out from under our rivers and fisheries. We must act now to protect California’s groundwater resources.”

Zeke Grader, Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations: "Managing groundwater is critical to maintaining surface water flows in many basins.  And, of course, surface water flows are critical for the survival of our economically important salmon runs, as well as other fish species."

Laurel Firestone, Community Water Center: “Safe, affordable, and accessible drinking water is a human right. These new laws create real, substantive change in the State’s ability to address the needs of communities that lack safe drinking water to meet their basic needs.” 

Phoebe Seaton, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability: “With this action, we have taken a historic step toward ensuring that individuals, families and communities reliant on groundwater have a role in protecting that resource.” 

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