Sep 20 2014

California Drought: Will Piedmont Wells be Managed?

– “California will no longer be the only Western state that does not manage its groundwater,” said Senator Fran Pavley. –

The precise number of wells in Piedmont is not recorded. In most of the City the water table is more than 20 feet below ground level. Piedmont’s 2005 General Plan refers to the existing wells as being used for non-potable water purposes, such as watering lawns and flowerbeds.  Some old wells may have gone dry as the water table dropped.

Will the remaining private wells in Piedmont ultimately come under government monitoring or management following the state government’s new regulatory authority over groundwater use? Up until now well owners have been free to pump as much water as they wished. Last year the State Water Resources Control Board proposed the creation of “sustainable thresholds” of groundwater use. Ten new state regulators will focus on curbing groundwater depletion.

California established surface water rights in 1914. On Tuesday, September 16, Governor Jerry Brown signed historic legislation to strengthen local control and monitoring of groundwater use.  The three bills signed by the Governor – AB 1739 by Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) and Senate Bills 1168 and 1319 by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) – create a framework for sustainable, local groundwater management for the first time in California history. Groundwater is a critical element of the state’s water system, making up more than one-third of California’s water supply. The bills establish a definition of sustainable groundwater management and initially focus on groundwater basins consumed by agriculture and industry but lay the predicate for monitoring all groundwater use.

“Ensuring a sustainable supply of groundwater is a critical element of addressing the water challenges facing California,” said Assemblymember Dickinson. “Over drafting our groundwater leads to subsidence and contamination; consequences we cannot afford. With these new laws in effect, California will take important steps to ensure we are protecting our valuable water supply for years to come.”

Groundwater is a critical element of the state’s water system, making up more than one-third of California’s water supply. The bills establish a definition of sustainable groundwater management and require local agencies to adopt management plans for the state’s most important groundwater basins.

The legislation prioritizes groundwater basins that are currently overdrafted and sets a timeline for implementation:

  • By 2017, local groundwater management agencies must be identified;
  • By 2020, overdrafted groundwater basins must have sustainability plans;
  • By 2022, other high and medium priority basins not currently in overdraft must have sustainability plans; and
  • By 2040, all high and medium priority groundwater basins must achieve sustainability.

The legislation provides measurable objectives and milestones to reach sustainability and a state role of limited intervention when local agencies are unable or unwilling to adopt sustainable management plans.

On the same day the Governor signed two other groundwater related bills focused on individual communities:

– AB 2453 by Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo) – Paso Robles Basin Water District.
– AB 1043 by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) – Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006: groundwater contamination.

For full text of the bills, visit:

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use, including private wells, by 20 percent and prevent water waste. and  Drought.CA.Gov provide information on conservation and the effects of the drought.

One Response to “California Drought: Will Piedmont Wells be Managed?”

  1. As a long time resident in ‘verdant’ Piedmont and as a Californian where we all face severe water cutbacks……….. I’m concerned about the lack of restrictions and environmental impacts of well digging and unlimited use of well water. The deep drilling and use of well water will impact the water table and groundwater levels and create an unbalanced use of water. Those that can afford to drill a well will still be consuming the precious fluid we all must conserve.
    I feel if you have a multi acre lot you should be able to use a well but if you have a normal lot in a typical block of two, three bedroom homes, I don’t think digging a well is good for the environment or the community. Thank you for giving me this forum and I would like to hear what you think about these concerns.

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