Finally the legislature passed and now Governor Brown has signed legislation that will regulate this limited resource and, importantly, thereby provide incentives to recharge aquifers where geologically feasible.
Huge thanks to all those who have worked on this legislation. And kudos to the Association of California Water Agencies, which supported the bill in spite of dissension within from some agricultural districts.
Those who worry about unfair implementation should take at least some solace in knowing that management will take place at the local level. The State will step in only if the locals fail to get it right.
The significance of this legislation is underscored by looking at regions where rules are already in place. Figure 1 below shows that most new storage developed in California has been underground. Recharging aquifers is usually much cheaper than building a reservoir and, in most cases, the two forms of storage provide similar benefits.
Investments in recharging and managing groundwater basins have been hugely successful in many parts of California, especially Kern County. Most of California's large cities presently "bank" large amounts of groundwater in Kern - especially at Semitropic Water Storage District. Figure 1 shows many of the new water storage projects developed in California since 1990. With common sense rules coming to groundwater we should should see the trend toward groundwater storage continue. Options for replacing Hetch Hetchy Reservoir will be more prevalent.
A great way to celebrate this momentous occasion is, of course, to make a contribution to Restore Hetch Hetchy.