September 7, 2022
A bill opposed by farm groups that would have required local agencies to certify that any new wells won't affect groundwater sustainability died in the California Assembly last week in the final hours of the legislative session.
The legislation would have required agencies that permit groundwater wells to obtain written verification stating that a proposed well will not undermine sustainable groundwater management or cause well interference prior to approving a permit application, according to a legislative analysis.
Western Growers and other farm groups argued the bill, authored by Assemblymember Steve Bennett (D-Ventura), would have created an unworkable process for farmers to replace or drill a new well.
A broad coalition of business and agricultural organizations argued that AB 2201 would have:
Interfered with the right of landowners to beneficially use the groundwater beneath their property;
Imposed significant costs on well applicants; and
Increased the likelihood of legal challenges against counties and groundwater sustainability agencies for well permitting decisions.
Opponents included the Almond Alliance of California, California Citrus Mutual, California Farm Bureau, the Nisei Farmers League and Wine Institute.
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