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Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Jovita Torres Romo lives in a grayish bungalow surrounded by cactus and succulents and strung with Christmas lights. It’s located on one of the handful of streets that make up Tombstone Territory, an unincorporated Fresno County community that’s been her home for 30 years. It’s quiet, except for the few days a week when her young grandchildren come over to watch cartoons and play in the backyard. “I like it here,” she says through a Spanish interpreter. “I raised five children here, they grew up in this house, and I like living outside the city in the county.”

On this week’s Valley Edition: California is trying to manage its groundwater better, but some communities, already grappling with unsafe drinking water, worry they’ll be left behind by local agencies to fend for themselves.

And a Bay Area conservation group just purchased the world’s largest privately owned giant sequoia grove: 530 acres of pristine forest.

Plus: We hear from journalists about two upcoming projects. One of them is run by young women throughout the state, the other is an effort to improve education reporting in Fresno. 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Dennis Hutson’s rows of alfalfa, melons, okra and black-eyed peas are an oasis of green in the dry terrain of Allensworth, an unincorporated community in rural Tulare County. Hutson, currently cultivating on 60 acres, has a vision for many more fields bustling with jobs. “This community will forever be impoverished and viewed by the county as a hamlet,” he says, “unless something happens that can create an economic base. That's what I'm trying to do.”

John Chacon / California Department of Water Resources

We in California are depleting our groundwater aquifers faster than we can replenish them. Over the last few decades in the San Joaquin Valley, that deficit has averaged close to two million acre-feet per year, a total that was exacerbated by drought conditions that may become more common as the climate continues to change.

To help reduce this deficit, state lawmakers and Governor Brown in 2014 passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, which aims to overhaul the way growers, cities and other water users manage the resource.

On this week’s Valley Edition: When it comes to California’s overhaul of groundwater management, many small farmers are wondering: When will they get a seat at the decision making table?

Also, Bakersfield may take a different approach to the homelessness crisis by using empty jail beds to enforce drug laws. 

Plus: We dig deep into the Bakersfield Sound with a new 10-CD collection. 

Listen to those stories and more in the podcast above.

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

When California adopted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014, it became the last Western state to regulate its groundwater. If local groundwater agencies fail to submit plans to the state by 2020, the law says state water agencies could take over management of groundwater, a resource that’s critically important to Valley agriculture.

When it comes to the 2020 census, why are some San Joaquin Valley communities among the country’s hardest to count? We explore what some advocates are doing to reach those who may have never been counted before.

Volunteers also share how they’re working to improve the quality of life for the 2,600 foster kids in Fresno and Madera Counties.

Plus, we speak with doctors trying to improve health care for the LGBTQ+ community, and we hear from a panel of water leaders about the latest in a statewide attempt to better manage groundwater.

Marc Benjamin

If you’ve been to Disneyland, Cambria, many parts of Los Angeles, then you most likely had a swig of highly treated recycled water. Recycled water meaning, yes, it was once in a sewage treatment plant.


For many years this recycled water has helped Orange County meet the needs of its growing population and reduce the toll on its declining aquifers. Soon, the same kind of water may be coming to Clovis and Fresno’s drinking water.
 

http://tularecounty.ca.gov/emergencies/index.cfm/drought/drought-effects-status-updates/2016/november/week-of-november-28-2016/

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.