Farmers thought they had 20 years to use groundwater as they wished — maybe not anymore

California farmers are laboring under a daunting edict: They must stop over-pumping groundwater from beneath their ranches. The saving grace is that state law gives them more than 20 years to do it.

Now, however, a landmark court ruling could force many farmers to curb their groundwater consumption much sooner than that, landing like a bombshell in the contentious world of California water.

For the first time, a California court has said state and county governments have a duty to regulate groundwater usage when it’s clear that the pumping drains water from adjacent rivers.

“This is going to be an immediate obligation, not one that they can wait 20 years,” said James Wheaton of the Environmental Law Foundation, an Oakland nonprofit that won the lawsuit. “They’re going to have to act now.”

Read the rest of the story on The Sacramento Bee


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