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California is the only state other than Texas that doesn’t regulate its groundwater. The California Constitution says that an owner of a property that lies above an aquifer can pump “reasonable amounts” from it if it’s put to good use—like drinking or watering crops. That makes it difficult for local governments to regulate how much water is pumped from the ground.
California’s Central Valley Aquifer is one of the most used in the US and a 2009 Geological Survey found that from 1962-2003 it was depleted by about 60 million acre feet. California has a history of battling over whether or not the practice should be regulated, and with a slate of water issues on the agenda for the state’s upcoming legislative session, the issue of groundwater regulation is back on the table.
Should California regulate its groundwater? What would that mean for agriculture in the state?
Jay Famiglietti, professor of Earth System Science and Director of the UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling at UC Irvine
Chris Scheuring, Associate Counsel, California Farm Bureau Federation