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Tulare County Considers Emergency Groundwater Ordinance

Dec 7, 2016

Tulare County is perhaps the hardest hit region of the state when it comes to drought. Today there are almost 600 dry domestic wells in the county alone. Now the board of supervisors there is considering whether the county needs an emergency groundwater ordinance to help stop wells from going dry.


Supervisors looked at a number of options Tuesday. They included adopting a law like Stanislaus County has limiting new development and the introduction of new land into farming; and new rules on well placement. Two other options included doing nothing, or simply waiting for the state’s new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA to take effect in 2020.


Kristin Dobbin is with Community Water Center. She wants to see the county take action on the idea.


"From our view it's really important that the county start taking action now in that direction, because every month or six months of not taking action on groundwater is more of a deficit that we have to make up in the future," Dobbin says.


But not everyone agreed. Steve Worthley is a Tulare County Supervisor.


"In some cases we’re looking for a problem that doesn’t necessarily exist in our county," Worthley says. "I’m inclined to let SGMA do its thing."


Ultimately supervisors asked for county staff to come back with more information at a later date to continue the discussion, but they showed some interest in possibly limiting the conversion of land that hasn’t been farmed  into irrigated agriculture. If the supervisors approve a future ordinance it would last until until 2020 when SIGMA is supposed to take effect.