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California considers stepping in to manage groundwater basin in farm country
California officials are faulting communities in a stretch of the crop-rich San Joaquin Valley for failing to develop a plan to adequately protect groundwater
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California officials on Thursday faulted communities in a stretch of the crop-rich San Joaquin Valley for failing to develop a plan to adequately protect groundwater in the often drought-plagued state.
The state's water resources board set an April hearing to determine whether the Tulare Lake Subbasin in the heart of California's farm country should be placed on probation. It is the first time the state has made such a move, and the first step in a lengthy process that could end up requiring large farms in the area to report groundwater use and pay fees.
California is starting to regulate the pumping of groundwater after years of drought and overpumping left rural residents’ wells dry and led to subsidence, or the sinking of land, in some communities. Both issues have affected the largely agricultural region, which is home to 145,000 people, and stand to worsen absent revisions to the local groundwater plan, officials said.
“This is an urgent issue,” said Natalie Stork, an official at the State Water Resources Control Board. “There are urgent impacts from continued overdraft in these basins.”