Magazine article Alternatives Journal

California's Dry Advice

Magazine article Alternatives Journal

California's Dry Advice

Article excerpt

DROUGHT CAN BE SCARY, and there's no doubt that recent headlines about the potentially cataclysmic drought in California has us all a little uneasy. Groundwater has long been California's "safety net" in times of drought, but so much groundwater has been taken that land is sinking under people's feet, and aquifers are at serious risk of being depleted (if they aren't already).

It's difficult to believe that up until last year, when and where wells were drilled, and how much could be pumped from them was basically unregulated in most of California.

Prior to last year, British Columbia also did not regulate its groundwater. In fact, it was the only province in Canada without any groundwater regulations. In 2014, however, both BC and California passed legislation to address this problem: the Water Sustainability Act and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, respectively.

BC's act is not yet in force, but will be by 2016. This new legislation provides real opportunities to better manage groundwater use in the province, and the provincial government is currently drafting the first regulations for pumping and allocating groundwater under the act.

New research from the University of Victoria's POLIS Project on Ecological Governance and Ecojustice shows that British Columbia can learn valuable lessons from its neighbours to the south as it drafts its new groundwater regulations. It's rare for two jurisdictions with this level of similarity to be undergoing such significant changes at the same time, and there are some really rich learning opportunities that simply cannot be ignored.

Randy Christensen and Oliver M. Brandes' new report California's Oranges and BC's Apples? Lessons for BC from California Groundwater Reformanalyzed California's legislation while taking into account the climatic, social and legal differences between the state and province. …

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