Desperately Dry California Tries to Curb Private Drilling for Water

by bshambla on September 25, 2015 - 11:58pm




The goal of this article is to explain and quantify the severity of California's water shortages, and to advocate for regulated water resource management as part of the solution to this issue. Privately drilled and operated wells have become very common across California farms due to the state's water shortages. However, in the current prolonged drought, the issue of groundwater resource exhaustion is becoming a reality. According to the article, 60% of California’s agricultural water demands are met by groundwater. This could become a problem that would hit California’s agricultural economy hard. The main actors in this situation are California farmers, scientists and researchers, the local government, and resource managers. Scientists, the local government, and resource managers are seeking to regulate groundwater management by allowing local management agencies to step in. For example, the article states that legislation requiring water managers in 126 higher priority groundwater basins have management plans by 2020. Additionally, plans of a multi-billion dollar water bond for use in management and the development of infrastructure may provide a partial solution to the issues.



I believe that the state is heading in the right direction here. There is clear that several conflicts are arising between local farmers and the local administration and scientists. The article includes sentiments from local farmers that exhibit cognitive and value conflicts, shown by a reluctance to work with the government, perhaps stemming from a lack of understanding of the gravity of the water shortages (cognitive) , or from having different values such as valuing their jobs over the environment (value). However, pertaining to different values, I think that it does not make sense to value jobs over the environment, as these jobs are completely reliant on the environments health. With this in mind, I think that regulation of groundwater management is absolutely essential for long term sustainability, even if there are short term implications for some farmers. I agree with the idea that private ownership of wells should not be eradicated. Allowing owners the opportunity to regulate usage through local management firms softens the notion of government control and power. Usage can be regulated without creating unnecessary tension between the state and stakeholders. An issue that is not really addressed in this article that I believe is important is public education in resource management. Certain misconceptions and different understandings can exacerbate opposing views on issues such as groundwaters resource status. For example, an understanding of the true meaning of a renewable resource could be the difference between an empty reservoir and a functioning reservoir. Similar to the case of poverty, I believe education, in conjunction with good water resource management practices, are strong solutions in mitigating the impacts of groundwater usage, and can be part of the solution in California.




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