What about water?

When it meets today (Feb. 28) in the Butte College cafeteria, the Citizens Advisory Committee for the update of Butte County’s general plan will not have the issue of water on its agenda. But a growing group of county residents is concerned that the plan is weak on the issue and needs to include a full-fledged water element, just as it includes agricultural and land-use elements. And they worry that, as the plan’s development process moves into Phase 4, during which preferred areas for development and types of development will be determined, adding such an element will be difficult, if not impossible. They want the CAC to act now.

We know that water is an integral part of growth considerations, so we agree that a water element for the general plan should be considered seriously—and soon—in a full and open public discussion, especially at the level of the county Board of Supervisors.

Several other counties are adding water elements to their general plans, but few actually exist, so Butte County would be plowing new ground, so to speak. That’s no reason not to do it, however. Creating a set of principles and guidelines regarding the county’s water resources, especially its groundwater, could go a long way toward protecting that water. And it makes little sense to develop guidelines for land use, particularly agricultural land, without similar guidelines for water use.

So far, at least, the issue has not been put on the board’s agenda. The CAC has the ability to influence whether the matter gets there. At the very least, CAC’s members should recommend that the supervisors consider adding a water element—and, if they choose not to do so, explain the reasons for their decision.