California is finally about to join the rest of the West in regulating groundwater supplies. But the package of bills awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature is not an instant fix for the state’s shrinking, over-pumped aquifers.
It could be decades, experts say, before the most depleted groundwater basins recover under the legislation, which is a historic step in a state that long resisted managing a key water source.
The bills, which Brown is expected to sign, will take years to implement. And they create a weaker regulatory framework than is found elsewhere in the West.
“This is a much more laissez-faire approach and a much more light-hand-of-government approach than just about any other state,” said UCLA law professor Jonathan Zasloff.