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Why the ag community is confused—and concerned—about an executive order on well drilling

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CRAIG KOHLRUSS CKOHLRUSS@FRESNOBEE.COM
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June Moua looks to see how the groundwater pump is working on her small farm west of Fowler on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021.

Growers are concerned that the order could slow or restrict access to groundwater.

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Don Wright
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Don Wright is the publisher of Water Wrights.

In late March, Governor Gavin Newsom introduced a drought-related executive order that adds a layer of bureaucratic approval to the permitting of new agricultural wells. The added labor has raised fears among the agricultural community that the order will amount to a moratorium on drilling new wells or even altering existing ones.

In this interview, KVPR’s Kerry Klein spoke about Executive Order #N-7-22 with Don Wright, publisher of Water Wrights, a website that provides water policy news and information to the agricultural community. Wright explained the nuts and bolts of the order and why it took the ag community by surprise, but also why there’s reason to believe its effects won’t be as severe as anticipated.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.