Local farmers and water purveyors are concerned about a report urging state authorities to take over groundwater regulations from the locally elected officials you might see in the local supermarket.
The California Legislative Analyst's Office recommends that the Legislature turn groundwater over to the state, which would remove local control and possibly cost everyone more money to have that groundwater, according to at least two farmers.
"There are so many regulations," said Joe Valente, president of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau and lifelong Lodi resident. "Once government gets involved, they never get out of it. It's a new regulation, a new fee, a new charge, a new tax."
Catherine Freeman, senior fiscal and policy analyst for the Legislative Analyst's Office, said she welcomes ideas from farmers, water purveyors and anyone else to solve what is a statewide water problem. Her office hasn't prescribed just how the state should regulate groundwater, she said.
"It's not an easy answer to solve," Freeman said. "A farmer in the north state, central state and south state would have pretty different opinions. There are a lot of folks with great ideas out there."
No legislative hearings have been set on the groundwater proposal, Freeman said.
Valente and Clements farmer Joe Mehrten say they fear that the state would require water meters, find out how much water everyone's using and charge for it.
Feedback sought on groundwater regulationThe California Legislative Analyst's Office welcomes comments from the community about how to regulate groundwater while addressing statewide needs. Comments can be sent by mail to Catherine Freeman at 925 L St., Suite 100, Sacramento, CA 95814, by phone at (916) 319-8325 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The agency's report "California's Water: An LAO Primer" addresses groundwater and other issues.
It is available at www.lao.ca.gov/LAOApp/PubDetails.aspx?id=1889.
Source: Legislative Analyst's Office
Valente, vineyard and orchard manager for John Kautz Farms, says farmers assume that if you own a piece of property and you have water underneath it, you're allowed to use that water.
While the Legislative Analyst's proposal would increase state administrative costs to establish new programs, there would be long-term savings to public and private entities across the state, according to a report on water issues throughout the state.