The California Water Foundation looked at 120 groundwater management plans adopted by local water agencies. In a nutshell, the results aren’t good.
Almost 30-percent were written in 2002 or earlier. Many lacked objectives and an implementation strategy. Some water agencies have no plan at all.
"We have a number of parts of the state where there is a significant amount of use and there are no published groundwater management plans and there are no obligations under the law that requires anyone to produce one,” says Andrew Fahlund with the California Water Foundation.
He says the state’s current groundwater laws are inadequate. The way the system is set up now, large groundwater withdrawals could pit neighbor against neighbor.
“The only recourse we have when one person is exercising their water right and harming the water right of another person is to sue. And that’s a pretty lousy instrument to get anything done,” says Fahlund.
The report recommends requiring local agencies to develop and enforce management plans and the state provide technical and financial support to do so.
Large groundwater withdrawals have led to saltwater intrusion and caused land to sink in some areas of the state.