Posted on August 13, 2015 by UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences
Groundwater users in the Main San Gabriel Basin clashed with downstream users as the region transitioned from citrus groves to sprawling suburbia. The competing interests eventually worked out a court-approved agreement over pumping rights after a series of difficult and exhausting negotiations. Photos: San Gabriel Valley in 1900 and in modern times. Sources: Covina Citrus Industry Photographs, Covina Public Library; Wikipedia
By Erik Porse
Under California’s new groundwater law, local agencies must adopt long-term plans for sustainably managing basins subject to critical overdraft. Preparing these plans will be challenging, requiring collaboration and compromise among water users accustomed to pumping as they please.
Local agencies do not know exactly what they’re in for. They’ve never been responsible for achieving “sustainable groundwater management,” as the law requires. However, the histories of adjudicated basins in the Los Angeles area can be instructive. They illustrate the difficult and exhaustive process required in reaching agreement among unregulated groundwater pumpers.