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Tulare County May Restrict New Well Drilling

July 16,2016-

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 7.54.54 AMTulare County may join some other counties in the state looking to restrict how much groundwater can be pumped within their jurisdiction. An advisory committee to the Board of Supervisors, the Tulare County Water Commission is recommending several steps in that direction while a second committee – the Ag Advisory Committee recommends no action. The Water Commission would “(1) Prohibit new well development on land that has not been in production in the previous 10 years; and (2) Retain a hydrogeologist to determine standardized well separation requirements for new and replacement wells; and  Impacts of increased pumping capacity for new and replacement wells. De minimus users, defined as those wells pumping less than 2 AF annually, are exempt.”
Studies show the county’s groundwater levels continues to decline particularly in the drier western parts of the county where land subsidence has been documented. Some members of the commission point to complaints by neghors of over pumping by some while others worry moving to restrict new well drilling will result in a slew of lawsuits.
The supervisors will take the controversial matter up in a formal hearing in late August. Supervisor Allen Ishida who sits on the Water Commission says the “state let it be known in face to face meetings that it expected us to make some moves to protect groundwater.” The groundwater management law already in place looks to come up with a “safe yield” pumping amount for different parts of the county.
More Failures – More Drilling
Tulare County has experienced some 1,552 Cumulative Reported Domestic Well Failures (an increase of 17 from previous report) as of July 12, 2016. Current Active Well Failures are 623 (an increase of 1.
As of July 8, 2016, Tulare County’s Environmental Health has approved over 5,403 drilling permits for wells (an increase of 30 from previous report) since January 1, 2014.

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