State Assembly Republican Leader-elect Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) issued a statement against the passing of groundwater legislation through the State Senate and Assembly.
AB 1739 passed through the Assembly on Friday on a 47-28 vote and will now go through the Governor’s desk for approval. Two bills, SB 1168 and SB 1319, were also passed through the Senate on a 25-10 vote.
The bills passed despite opposition from every Republican and Democrat legislator representing the Central Valley, according to a release from Olsen.
“While my colleagues and I all agree that something needs to be done to safeguard our groundwater resources, these poorly crafted bills give too much control to the State and could have devastating impacts on farm owners and workers, businesses, families, and entire communities across the Central Valley,” said Olsen in a statement. “Our vulnerable region of the state is still suffering from high rates of poverty, record unemployment, and increasingly high costs of living – we simply cannot sustain another hit to our local economy.”
Central Valley legislators believe the bills have been rushed through, and that time to write and negotiate the bills should be taken. This is the first time California is considering regulating its groundwater, the Wall Street Journal reports.
“It took 10 years for the Legislature to develop and pass a water bond that will increase water supply and improve water infrastructure for generations to come,” said Olsen. “These groundwater bills are the most significant bills to pass the Legislature since water rights were first established in 1913 – and yet they were negotiated, written and narrowly passed in just a few weeks. If the State is truly interested in preventing depletion, it should provide incentives for local jurisdictions to develop regional groundwater plans and to implement innovative solutions that will protect and replenish our aquifers and groundwater basins.”
If the groundwater legislation is signed by Governor Jerry Brown, groundwater would be regulated with rules drawn locally, but the State Water Control Board could intervene if it feels it is necessary.
“I urge the Governor to veto these measures and call a Special Session so that my colleagues and I can address this critical issue in a more comprehensive, solutions-oriented manner that will benefit all regions of California,” said Olsen.
The Turlock Irrigation District has been anticipating groundwater legislation for several years now, which is one of the reasons they are considering increasing rates for their irrigation customers.