By Luis Hernandez
July 28, 2016
Community Water Center’s Kristin Dobbin is calling on the Board of Supervisors to consider recommendations addressing groundwater overdraft.
Dobbin, who’s the center’s regional water management coordinator, spoke before the board on Tuesday, asking for the item to be placed on an upcoming meeting agenda.
“Time is of the essence,” she said. “The bottom line is that the board needs to take action.”
Local water district managers, water commissioners, representatives from the farm bureau and staff from the water center have been meeting for more than a year. There were three recommendations coming out of the meetings.
The most recent recommendation was passed June 15.
“That’s the time the Board of Supervisors could and should have taken action,” Dobbin said.
Over the last month, 80 domestic wells have failed. According to county totals, there have been 1,569 reported domestic wells failures since 2014.
“The supervisors wanted input,” Dobbin said. “It’s time to bring it back and make a decision.
While the first two recommendations called for immediate action, the latest called for status quo.
“That’s the confusing part,” Dobbin said. “[Commissioners] need to decide what language they want to do.”
On Feb. 8, the Joint Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee and water commission’s groundwater subcommission recommended adopting an emergency policy to consider the long-term impacts of new wells.
“We need more analysis of drilling,” Dobbin said.
On May 9, the water commission called for a two-fold recommendation also regarding water wells.
First, the recommendation calls for banning new well development on agriculture land not used in the last decade. Second, setting a minimum distance for a new well.
Dobbin used an example of how a lack of space between wells can affect a domestic well.
In Sultana, an agriculture well was installed within 300 feet of a backup well for service district. Dobbin said there’s concern the agriculture well will impact the domestic one.
“Their fear is it will draw water from the community well,” Dobbin said.
There have 5,434 drilling permits issued in Tulare County since Jan. 1, 2014.
On June 15, the APAC recommended no immediate action be taken. However, Dobbie said a decision should be made.
“We want to see an ordinance that’s inline with conservation,” Dobbin said. “We want to bring a policy reflecting the drought and with the reality of science.”
Supervisors will next meet on Aug. 9 and that’s when Dobbin wants the recommendations on the agenda.
More water center news
Susana De Anda, water center co-founder and co-executive director, was recognized as one of 10 White House Champions of Change for Climate Equity earlier this month.
Over the last 10 years, De Anda has worked with rural, low-income communities dealing with dry wells and increased drinking water supplies.
“The drought has laid bare the extreme climate vulnerability of rural, low-income communities in the San Joaquin Valley,” De Anda said. “At the Community Water Center, we’re working to ensure these residents are at the decision-making table so their communities can emerge from this drought more resilient to climate change.”
That’s where work needs to be done.
“Our communities are experiencing the impacts of climate change right now,” she said. “With climate change expected to cause more frequent and intense droughts, lawmakers need to create a sustainable funding source to address California communities’ long-term drinking water needs, including water system operation and maintenance costs. Securing a reliable water supply is crucial to advancing climate equity and ensuring that the frontline communities right here in California that are most vulnerable to this global climate crisis have a sustainable future.”
State officials praise De Anda’s selection.
“I’m delighted that Susana De Anda has received the White House Champion of Change Award in recognition of her leadership and tireless efforts to advance drinking water solutions for all Californians,” said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. “I am sure she will leverage this award to continue advocating for additional funding sources, effective water policies, improved planning processes, and essential legislation to advance drinking water solutions for low-income communities.”