Groundwater fight

Somebody had better circulate a draft of Butte County’s soon-to-be-proposed groundwater basin management plan soon, because judging by public comment at the last Board of Supervisors meeting, nobody can agree on what the thing is supposed to do.

At a well-attended meeting Tuesday, Sept. 9, several members of the public expressed reservations about the ordinance, which county staff say will one day protect one of the county’s most important natural resources—its groundwater. At issue seems to be whether certain groups, such as irrigation and water districts, farmers and other water users, will be exempted from following the ordinance.

Even the board couldn’t say which parties would or wouldn’t be covered by the ordinance because they were not given a copy of the draft by county staff.

Ed Craddock, director of the county Department of Water and Resource Conservation, told the board he didn’t know where the confusion was coming from, as the plan does not call for exempting any groundwater users, except in some cases those who get their water from domestic wells.

Other speakers said the plan followed too closely the regulation it is to be based on—that of the Glenn County groundwater ordinance—and some worried that the plan would lead to a loss of orchard land and more water transfers to Southern California.

“If I were an attorney for the [Metropolitan Water District], I would be hard pressed to find a better ordinance than this one,” said speaker Barbara Hannigan.

The board took no action on the item but requested a copy of the draft to look over.