In the midst of California’s severe and record-breaking drought, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, to allow a groundwater management agency in Ventura County to inspect wells to verify how much water has been withdrawn.
Senate Bill 988 authorizes the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency (FCGMA) to inspect any groundwater extraction facility within its boundaries with the consent of an owner to gather information on the status of the well. Currently, the agency relies on self-reporting, which can include omissions and errors.
“During this drought, groundwater is becoming more and more precious and in ever shorter supply,” Jackson said. “Just like a bank account, local agencies need to accurately know just how much is in the account, and how much is being withdrawn, to be wise stewards of this very precious shared resource. This provides a Ventura County water management agency with an important tool to better assess and manage its limited groundwater during this period of extreme drought and in the future.”
If the owner does not provide consent, this bill allows the agency to seek a warrant to inspect the facility.
Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency currently manages 1,200 wells in the Fox Canyon Aquifer in Ventura County, the majority of them on agricultural land.
Just a few months ago, under the direction of Governor Jerry Brown, the California Natural Resources Agency, in partnership with a number of other state agencies, released the California Water Action Plan. The plan specifically recognizes the need to provide local communities with tools that help them stay on top of their groundwater supplies.
The bill is sponsored by Fox Canyon and has the support of the California Farm Bureau Federation and the County of Ventura.
Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.
— Lisa Gardiner is the communications director for state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.