“We’re concerned that these hastily written measures may come to be seen as ‘historic’ for all the wrong reasons,” California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger said. “Truly historic measures were taken more than 50 years ago, when President Kennedy and Gov. Pat Brown broke ground on water projects that ultimately allowed California to become a world economic power with food production that rivals that of entire nations.”
Wenger said he hopes history does not look back on this day as a time when California’s prominence began to erode.
“We consider ourselves a progressive state,” he said, “yet we embrace measures that will reduce our quality of life, our economic growth and our ability to grow food for our state, nation and world.”
Now that the bills have been signed, Wenger said, Farm Bureau will “actively monitor” their implementation.
“We will be watching this process carefully to make sure state and local agencies respect water rights, property rights and privacy rights, as the bills require,” he said.
“Farm Bureau has supported local groundwater management for many years, but groundwater has been under pressure mainly because surface water supplies are in crisis,” Wenger said. “If we want to make groundwater supplies truly sustainable, we must make sure all water needs can be met through addition of more surface water storage and better management of the storage we already have.”
Wenger said Farm Bureau favors an all-of-the-above approach to water, which includes more surface and underground storage, recycling, desalination and continued improvements in water-use efficiency to accommodate population growth, increased environmental water commitments and changing weather patterns.
“Our focus on constraining demand—which includes these groundwater bills—has left us in the position we’re in today: with not enough water to meet our needs for food production, environmental and urban uses. We must also enhance California water supplies in order to maintain our state’s unique economic and environmental contributions to our nation and world,” he said.
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 78,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.