It’s been one year since California Governor Jerry Brown signed a landmark law to manage the state’s groundwater. The California Water Commission has approved new groundwater basin boundaries - the first major step in implementing the law. In essence, the basin boundaries are like new political boundaries for managing groundwater.
“Basically we’re going from one big fight six or nine months ago to everybody working together to implement this important law,"says Tim Quinn with the Association of California Water Agencies. "So we view this as a pretty important step forward."
The new boundaries will allow local entities to work together and create a Groundwater Sustainability Agency. It will have the power to monitor groundwater supply, set new standards for use, and enforce compliance.
But it will be a long time before California actively manages its groundwater supply.
“We didn’t get into the situation we’re in with groundwater and all the unhappy effects of over-pumping groundwater…we didn’t get here overnight and so it’s certainly going to take a fairly good chunk of time to address this,” says Lauren Hersh with the California Department of Water Resources.
Agencies will have until 2020 to begin managing basins, and until 2040 to achieve sustainability goals.