All residents of Merced County are dependent on groundwater. Most impacted during the drought were urban residents using domestic wells and local farms. Hundreds of wells went dry, costing local residents millions of dollars. At the same time, 30,000 acre feet (10 billion gallons) of groundwater was exported by 2 individuals for millions in profit. That was enough water to support 500 homes for 30 years.
What you need to know is that there are still individuals in the groundwater basin willing to export your groundwater for large monetary benefits. Some ranches drilled numerous wells specifically to pump water for transfer, but have been hampered by the county’s water-export ordinance. They are now requesting to be annexed into other lands that stretch along the San Joaquin River. This annexation could provide a mechanism to circumvent our recently adopted ordinance.
On March 15, this issue will again be in front of the Merced County LAFCO commission (209 385-7671) and unless challenged could move closer to approval. We need to oppose any decision that could change how land and water are managed until the new state groundwater management plans are developed and put in practice.
Bob Weimer, Atwater