Community Water Center

Community-driven water solutions through organizing, education, and advocacy

Interim Groundwater Ordinances Needed

After four years of drought, we need to take local action now to mitigate impacts and protect our most vulnerable residents. With thousands of dry household wells in the San Joaquin Valley, our counties need to do a better job monitoring well drilling and addressing the negative impacts of virtually unrestricted groundwater pumping. Since January 2014, Fresno County has issued over 2,800 well drilling permits with few restrictions despite the adverse impacts of these new wells on rural residents in our fourth year of severe drought. Neighboring Tulare County has issued almost 4,500 well drilling permits since January 2014. Over the same time frame, 1,410 domestic water wells have gone dry in Tulare County.

The new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act sets us on a path to better resource management, but it will not be fully implemented for many years. Communities and residents facing complete household water loss need assistance now.

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of applying for state funding to develop a strong interim groundwater ordinance, but the final application did not mention addressing groundwater overdraft with an interim ordinance. Fresno County reneged on its promise to residents. Fresno County needs to commit to collaboratively developing a groundwater ordinance to ensure basic human rights in a region where thousands of residents lack running water due to excessive groundwater pumping. 

Meanwhile, we're pleased that Tulare County is bringing together stakeholders to develop an interim groundwater ordinance. We hope this process will continue moving forward to ensure rural communities are protected from excessive groundwater pumping.

CWC and our partners are committed to passing interim groundwater ordinances in both Fresno and Tulare Counties that will protect our most vulnerable residents and set the County on the path toward sustainable groundwater management, as mandated by the new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

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