BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 359
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          Date of Hearing:   March 22, 2011

                   ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON WATER, PARKS AND WILDLIFE
                                Jared Huffman, Chair
                 AB 359 (Huffman) - As Introduced:  February 14, 2011
           
          SUBJECT  :   Groundwater management plans

           SUMMARY  :   Adds additional notification and mapping requirements 
          when a local agency is drafting a groundwater management plan.  
          Specifically,  this bill:
             
          1)Requires a local agency that develops a groundwater management 
            plan and drafts a resolution to adopt a plan, to provide a 
            copy of a resolution of intention to the Department of Water 
            Resources (DWR) within 30 days of the date of adoption.

          2)Requires the local agency, upon written request, to provide a 
            copy of the proposed groundwater management plan to an 
            interested person and to notify those interested persons at 
            least 30 days prior to the commencement of the second hearing 
            to determine whether to adopt the plan.

          3)Requires DWR to post on its Internet Web site the information 
            DWR possesses regarding the local agencies that have 
            jurisdiction to develop groundwater management plans and maps, 
            including agencies who have submitted resolutions of intention 
            to adopt groundwater management plans or agencies that have 
            opted to assume groundwater basin level monitoring functions.

          4)Specifies that the groundwater projects to which these 
            requirements apply include projects that are part of an 
            integrated regional water management program or plan.

          5)Requires, commencing January 1, 2013, that a groundwater 
            management plan include a map identifying recharge areas, as 
            defined, for the groundwater basin and, after adoption of the 
            groundwater management plan, provide the map to local planning 
            agencies.

          6)Allows a local agency to request state funds to map 
            groundwater recharge areas if eligible funding is available.

           EXISTING LAW  :









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          1)Encourages local agencies to work cooperatively to manage 
            groundwater resources within their jurisdictions and, if not 
            otherwise required by law, to voluntarily adopt groundwater 
            management plans.

          2)Requires a groundwater plan contain components related to 
            funding, management, and monitoring in order for a local 
            agency to be eligible for groundwater project funds 
            administered by DWR.

          3)Allows a groundwater plan to voluntarily contain additional 
            listed components.

          4)Requires all of the groundwater basins identified in DWR's 
            Bulletin 118 to be regularly and systematically monitored and 
            the information to be readily and widely available.

          5)Makes entities managing groundwater, including local agencies 
            that are monitoring groundwater pursuant to a groundwater 
            management plan, eligible for state water grants and loans.  

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  :  Groundwater is one of California's most important 
          natural resources and our reliance on it continues to grow.  
          Periodically, DWR produces a report on California's groundwater 
          entitled Bulletin 118.  In the most recent version of Bulletin 
          118, produced in 2003, California was not only the single 
          largest user of groundwater in the nation, extracting 14.5 
          million acre-feet annually, but that use represented 20% of all 
          the groundwater extracted in the entire United States.  Bulletin 
          118 estimated that 43% of all Californians obtain their drinking 
          water from groundwater.  Yet, despite California's heavy 
          reliance on groundwater, basic information for many of the 
          groundwater basins is lacking.  

          Groundwater overdraft is defined as the condition of a 
          groundwater basin or subbasin in which the amount of water 
          withdrawn by pumping exceeds the amount of water that recharges 
          the basin over a period of years.  By requiring the mapping of 
          recharge areas, this bill simply provides an informational tool 
          that is shared by local agencies developing groundwater 
          management plans and local planning agencies.  This bill does 
          not mandate any specific actions to protect or enhance 
          groundwater recharge or require land use changes.  








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           Supporting arguments  :  Supporters of this bill state it 
          represents a worthy incremental step towards sound management of 
          California's groundwater resources and the hydrologic systems 
          that depend on them for both human and ecosystem needs.  
          Supporters also point out that it contains improved public 
          notice requirements that will better enable local community 
          members to provide input in the groundwater management plan 
          process.

           Opposing arguments  :  Opponents of this bill assert that this 
          bill intends that mapped areas "will be rezoned to restrict 
          their use as recharge areas" and ask whether landowners will be 
          properly notified and informed of "potential changes in land use 
          designations" of their property.  They also suggest this bill 
          will eliminate flexibility for water districts and landowners to 
          negotiate private agreements and that it will foster "expansive" 
          designations of groundwater recharge areas.  Finally, they 
          criticize the use of the words "substantially contribute" with 
          reference to those types of areas where recharge should be 
          mapped.

          Opponents appear to confuse groundwater management planning and 
          local land use planning.  This bill contains no intent language 
          directed at rezones or land use, nor does the section it amends 
          govern zoning or land use.  Groundwater management plans are 
          drafted by local agencies providing water service.  Land use 
          decisions are governed by the General Plan prepared by the 
          county or city.  Even where these two efforts are by the same 
          entity, they may be by different departments.  It is this very 
          separation in planning efforts and the need to foster 
          communication and awareness that this bill is trying to address 
          by requiring a copy of the recharge area maps be provided to the 
          local planning agencies.  And, quite apart from this bill, 
          existing planning and land use laws require that if "a proposed 
          general plan or amendments to a general plan would affect the 
          permitted use or intensity of uses of real property" a hearing 
          must be held and notice mailed or delivered at least 10 days in 
          advance of the hearing.  So, this bill cannot change a land use 
          designation and, in fact, a land use designation cannot be 
          changed at all without notice.

          This bill does not mandate how water districts and private 
          landowners may negotiate private agreements or suggest that 
          groundwater recharge areas should be mapped expansively.  In 








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          fact, by requiring that the area which is mapped must 
          "substantially contribute to the replenishment of the 
          groundwater basin," the bill limits mapping.  Without a modifier 
          such as "substantially," the resulting language would require 
          maps to identify all "recharge areas that contribute to the 
          replenishment of the groundwater basin."  That ambiguity could 
          lead local agencies to feel that they are required to map any 
          area that contributes to the recharge, even if the contribution 
          is minimal.

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          California Groundwater Coalition (Co-sponsor)
          Groundwater Resources Association (Co-sponsor)
          California Coastkeeper Alliance
          California Trout
          Clean Water Action
          Planning and Conservation League
          The Nature Conservancy
          The Sierra Club
          Trout Unlimited

           Opposition 
           
          California Cattlemen's Association
          California Chamber
          California Farm Bureau Federation
          Western Growers
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Tina Cannon Leahy / W., P. & W. / (916) 
          319-2096