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New Water Rules Favor Some Madera Farmers, Penalize Others

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Photo of pumped groundwater flowing into a canal
SGMA aims to stop groundwater overpumping in California's critically overdrafted regions by 2040. (Shutterstock)
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Madera County, which acts as a groundwater sustainability agency for farmlands outside of irrigation district boundaries, was the first agency in California to institute groundwater pumping limits.

By Jesse Vad

SJV Water

Meanwhile, area irrigation districts haven’t implemented pumping restrictions.

That has created what one farmer called an unfair advantage. But there are arguments on the other side that farmers in irrigation districts have paid fees and other costs for years that non-districted farmers haven’t.

This is just one of the difficult issues farmers now face as California’s groundwater law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, edges closer to full implementation in 2040.

Two Sides of the Debate

In the video below, Madera County farmer Stuart Weil says that pumping limits for growers outside of irrigation districts give other farmers an unfair advantage.

But fellow Chowchilla farmer Kole Upton counters that district farmers have paid assessments and other costs to bring in surface water for years specifically to replenish groundwater while out-of-district farmers haven’t paid those fees.

Watch: Groundwater Pumping Limits Pit Farmer vs. Farmer

About SJV Water

SJV Water is an independent, nonprofit news site dedicated to covering water in the San Joaquin Valley. 

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