Wednesday, September 17, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS


Groundwater becomes next big California fight

elias column sig

By
From page A13 | April 23, 2014 |

The next front in California’s long-running water wars has already opened, and the reasons for it will sometimes be hard to see – but not always.

That next fight is over groundwater, source of about 35 percent of the state’s fresh water in normal years and a much higher percentage in dry ones like 2014. This battle has the potential to become far more bitter than even the quarrels over how to distribute water from the Delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems.

Why? It’s all but certain that regulations of some kind will come soon to this only source of California fresh water that currently has virtually none.

“In the coming months, I will be working . . . on strategies for more effective groundwater management,” wrote Democratic state Sen. Fran Pavley of Calabasas in her latest constituent newsletter.

When Pavley broaches a subject like this, no one involved can afford to ignore her. Only last year, she authored the state’s first regulations on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for oil and natural gas, and back in 2006, she was the force behind the Assembly Bill 32 restrictions on greenhouse gases, progenitor of the state’s ever-controversial cap-and-trade program.

For sure, the long-running drought here is producing conditions that almost demand regulation.

As things get drier, especially for San Joaquin Valley farms now drawing just a small fraction of their normal water entitlements from both the state Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project, many of those farmers are pumping groundwater furiously to keep their crops and businesses alive.

The longstanding presumption here has been that if there’s water under your land and you have a well, you can take as much as you want. That has sometimes ignored effects on other nearby property owners and the public.

One of those effects can be land subsidence, which in some Central Valley locales has topped 20 feet and can be spotted by passing motorists who see instruments and wellheads that once were on the surface perched on pipes reaching high above the current ground level.

Subsidence, in turn, can lead to problems moving surface water in canals, something water agencies cannot long tolerate. Overpumping groundwater can also spur intrusions of brackish saltwater into freshwater aquifers.

The reality is that some of California’s most significant environmental laws have been the direct results of crises. The Field Act, passed just after the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, changed the way schools all over the state are built. Building standards for other structures changed immensely after the 1971 San Fernando earthquake severely damaged the Olive View Medical Center. The drought of 1975-77 produced major water conservation changes, among them wide government distribution of low-flow toilets and shower heads, now standard in new homes and one reason today’s drought has not yet proved as disastrous as previous ones.

So far, drought has not produced great enthusiasm for Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed twin tunnels water project to bring Sacramento River water under the Delta to the state’s aqueduct. That’s partly because in return for more than $20 billion, the state would get no more water, even if the tunnels might assure more level supplies from year to year. So far, the main backers are water districts on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, whose member farmers are prone to major water allocation swings from year to year.

So that project won’t go anywhere for a while, which could mean that legislators who want at least to purvey the image of doing something about the drought will become more likely to adopt groundwater regulations.

If they try this, expect another loud and large fight to break out, as farmers and water districts with wells of their own can be expected to fight anyone who tries to tell them what to do with water they’ve long viewed as their own property.

Thomas Elias is a California author. Reach him at tdelias@aol.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

David Grant doctor’s mission continues

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Chamber PAC draws candidates to Jelly Belly

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A2, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Damaged dog gets going-away party after getting healthy

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Suisun City slaying suspect case moves forward

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Touro University to host Zombie Run/Walk

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Land trust organizes Rockville Trails Preserve hike

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Police enlist help to find armed bandit

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4, 12 Comments | Gallery

 
Chamber to host Suisun City candidates night

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A5

 
 
 
Coastal Cleanup Day targets local waterways

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Judge questions juror in Calkins case

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

Drama reigns supreme with week’s film debuts

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Anti-drug programs face funding shortfall

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Suisun City police log: Sept. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Sept. 13, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 13, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Sept. 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Weather for Sept. 17, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B14

.

US / World

Woman in wildfire’s path lost almost everything

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Lumber town takes stock after wind-driven wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

PG&E officials leave posts over improper emails

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Things to know about California groundwater law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

California drivers must give bikes 3-foot buffer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 21 Comments | Gallery

 
San Francisco trying shaming for quake safety

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Governor signs first California groundwater rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Robbery suspects tried to make off with $15,600

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Top general: US ground troops possible in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Obama: Ebola outbreak a threat to global security

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

UN: Nearly $1 billion needed now to stop Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
CDC study: Americans’ bellies are expanding fast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 4 Comments | Gallery

Blacks, Hispanics have doubts about media accuracy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 2 Comments

 
School bus driver killed during safety drill

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Hunt on for survivalist charged in trooper killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
Afghan suicide bomber kills 3 foreign troops

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Mexico airlifts tourists after Hurricane Odile

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Ukraine lawmakers ratify landmark deal with Europe

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment | Gallery

Iraq parliament rejects interior, defense nominees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

 
.

Opinion

 
Time for utility execs to start worrying

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A11

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 17, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
 
Column focus on campaign signs misplaced

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 13 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 17, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Sept. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My selfish husband neglects and cheats on me. What’s next?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 17, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

All the flavors of fall in one twice-baked package

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Leave them feeling full with nutritious chia seeds

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6, 1 Comment

A late summer Southern classic – tomato pie

By Elizabeth Karmel | From Page: B6

 
.

Entertainment

CBS: Rihanna out of NFL telecast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Leonardo DiCaprio named UN Messenger of Peace

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Prep volleyball preview: Big goals for city teams

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders games are like live reruns

By Tony Wade | From Page: B1, 2 Comments

Kazmir, sloppy Athletics lose 6-3 to Rangers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Armijo volleyball team falls to Vintage

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Peavy, Posey help Giants gain ground in NL West

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Criticism mounting for Vikings, Adrian Peterson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

McIlroy wins PGA player of the year award

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Grand jury to weigh case of NASCAR’s Tony Stewart

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Sacramento Kings to retire Stojakovic’s jersey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Broncos, Seahawks top AP Pro32 before rematch

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Union appeals Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension by NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jaguars sign Rodriguez grad Jensen off practice squad

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B2

Short stay at NASCAR’s party for AJ and Almirola

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hindsight: a Ryder Cup tradition, like no other

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Senator ties NFL tax status to Redskins name

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
DA: Josh Gordon gets probation in DWI case in NC

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Anheuser-Busch, McDonald’s voice NFL disapproval

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers defense looks to bounce back from tough day

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

.

Business

NASA picks Boeing and SpaceX to ferry astronauts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Web filter lifts block on gay sites

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Alibaba risk: China’s rise leaves out investors

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Corinthian Colleges sued for predatory lending

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

UPS expects to hire up to 95,000 seasonal workers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
US CEOs less optimistic about hiring, spending

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Obituaries

Minnie Watkins Dixon

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Margaret King

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5