In CA, it could be decades, experts say, before the most depleted groundwater basins recover under new legislation

September 8, 2014 | Emergency Planning, EPA

The LA Times reports,

"California is finally about to join the rest of the West in regulating groundwater supplies. But the package of bills awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown's signature is not an instant fix for the state's shrinking, over-pumped aquifers.

It could be decades, experts say, before the most depleted groundwater basins recover under the legislation, which is a historic step in a state that long resisted managing a key water source.

The bills, which Brown is expected to sign, will take years to implement. And they create a weaker regulatory framework than is found elsewhere in the West.

'This is a much more laissez-faire approach and a much more light-hand-of-government approach than just about any other state,' said UCLA law professor Jonathan Zasloff.

In most years, groundwater amounts to between 30% and 45% of the state's water supplies. In dry periods such as the current drought, when reservoirs are low, that can jump to 60%. And some regions, such as the Central Coast, always draw the majority of their supplies from the ground.

Despite that reliance, pumping from most groundwater basins has gone unregulated, driving down water tables and in some areas causing land surfaces to sink more than 20 feet."

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