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An unremitting California focus: aquifers and water

Relatively new legislation -- described as "historic" in one media account -- targets water levels and use across California. It has prompted many parties to act, but not in ways deemed salutary by environmental groups and some state legislators. Their actions have prompted a further and restrictive would-be law aimed at protecting aquifers deemed to be in "critical overdraft" status.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, passed in 2014, focuses specifically on areas of the state where water shortage is viewed as being especially problematic. Local government agencies are tasked under the legislation to create sustainable plans for water use in those regions by 2022. Following that, as noted in the above-cited article, they have two decades "to bring their aquifers into balance."

That liberal time frame has spurred considerable action, but not the response that officials are looking for in many instances. One state lawmaker employs the phrase "a real gold rush" to describe the seeming attempt of some parties to circumvent the intent and mandate of the law by drilling as many new wells as they possibly can before statutory deadlines kick in.

That is endangering the state, says Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), who has authored a bill that, if passed, would flatly ban drilling in select areas. The prohibition would not pertain to drilling aimed at securing drinking water for a community.

The bill is not without critics; which include spokespersons from a variety of business interests.

Wolk is not impressed by their complaints.

She says, rather, that she is waiting to hear their proposals for addressing the problem and offering potential solutions to it.

"The status quo is not acceptable," she says.

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