The Process of the Governor’s New Groundwater Legislation is Flawed
By Kyle Buchoff, California Ag Today Reporter
On September 15, Governor Brown signed a new package of groundwater legislation into law.
Barry Bedwell, president of the California Fresh Fruit Association, which represents a large part of the tree fruit industry across the state, says the signage of those bills was imminent. Bedwell, known to be an agricultural leader who fights for farmers, remarked, “I think given the severity of the drought, and the fact that everyone has been calling for action, no one should be surprised that the governor has decided to sign these bills.”
“I think the problem is that the process itself is flawed,” Bedwell continued. “We, as stakeholders, particularly from Agriculture, did not have the opportunity to vet the ideas, weigh in on this groundwater legislation and try to come to a consensus–much like we did on the water bond–to make sure that agriculture had a buy-in to the process. That is what was lacking here,” said Bedwell.
Bedwell says that no one in Ag argues against the need for sustainability in groundwater management. “We all understand that. But once again, when you have three bills that were amended the last few days of the session, and then voted on in the wee hours of the night on the last day, it is just not a system that inspires confidence. You just can’t do that.”
Bedwell predicts attorneys will be lining up for litigation. “For the next 30-40 years, maybe, these people will be in litigation on these kind of issues,” he said.