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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California

October 19, 2005 Vol 32, No. 49 Page A1, column 1


Governor vetoes well meters


-- One sigh of relief for California agriculture.


By Liz Bowen, Pioneer Press Assistant Editor, Fort Jones, California


SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Earlier this month, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have placed meters on all agriculture wells in the state. Landowners would have had to report water levels several times a year from their wells.

As a result, agricultural groups and rural counties breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Both state Senator Sam Aanestad and Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa were “thrilled” by the governor’s veto.

In the vote at the senate level, Aanestad voted against SB-820, which was opposed by virtually every farming and agricultural group in the state. Most rural counties and the council of rural counties also voiced opposition.

David Reed, from LaMalfa’s office, said that the bill would have placed an incredible onerous burden on family farmers, who would have had to put meters on their wells and then report the usage to the state.

“In fact it represented a threat to the very water rights that folks in the north possess,” said Reed, “which we must safeguard relentlessly.”

In Scott Valley, groundwater wells near the Scott River received adjudication in 1980, which is monitored by the California Department of Water Resources. It is this agency that provides watermaster service and should not be confused with the California Water Quality Control Board and its regional boards; which are threatening the use of agricultural water through TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) Action Plans.

On Oct. 7, 2005, the governor signed 34 senate and assembly bills and vetoed 41. With each veto, he provided a summary of reasons for his lack of support.

For SB-820, the Governor Schwarzenegger said the bill was “a very comprehensive measure that attempted to address a host of water rights issues that included surface water along with the groundwater.”

Apparently, the author Senator Sheila Kuehl, a Democrat from Santa Monica, was pushing for water management plans regarding urban areas. In researching water issues, the governor said the bill was flawed by only reviewing half of the groundwater equation.

“By mandating extraction reports without analysis of recharge, groundwater quality, basin composition and other issues essential to understanding the health of the groundwater basin, this bill creates a significant burden on property owners,” said Governor Schwarzenegger.




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