Groundwater report: Regional approach is better than statewide mandates

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“The Northern Sacramento Valley still has a relatively healthful aquifer, where rainfall refills groundwater basins.

But recent reports have shown that groundwater elsewhere, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley, are being tapped at an unsustainable rate.

Meanwhile, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, through which water for most Californians flows, is the focus of an intense planning effort.

“ACWA believes the challenge of providing sustainable groundwater management must be met by local and regional agencies and not by centralized state regulation,” the report states.

“The Sacramento Valley is standing out as a good example of dealing with this problem before it’s a problem,” said Tim Quinn, ACWA executive director.

Relationships between various water users is complicated, Quinn said. “A regional approach requires sophisticated partnering,” much of which is already taking place.

As the available water continues to be stretched, controversy will intensify, Quinn said.

This will probably mean telling growers to pump less water, Quinn said. In wet years, there needs to be a system to refill groundwater.

This year, proposed reservoirs could have captured water released for flood control. “We need a place to park molecules so you can get it out in a year like this and hold it,” he said.

The report highlights seven specific projects as examples of groundwater management.

Glenn County’s groundwater management program is included. It tracks groundwater levels and subsidence.

Examples from other areas include groundwater banking, recycled water use, coordinated water conservation and desalination projects.”

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