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California Officials Developing Framework For 'Sustainable' Groundwater Management


California state officials are working on a five-year plan they hope will lead to better local management of underground water supplies.

The state says groundwater levels are in alarming decline, and that must be reversed.

In times of drought, more water is pulled from the ground.

A number of government agencies are generating a proposal to make sure that over years of use and replenishment, there’s adequate supply of groundwater.

“A number of local basins do have management, but we don’t have a statewide framework for that," says Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

She says the current proposal supports local authorities in devising their own management plans, but the state would intervene if need be.

“If because of at the local level you just don’t have the political will, or there’s too many conflicts to come to a collaborative solution, the state will step in.”  says Ross.

Ross says usually groundwater accounts for about 30% of water use. This year, it amounts to about 60 percent.

Two bills calling for sustainable groundwater management are making their way through the California legislature. 

Ross says groundwater management was first considered 30 years ago.

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