Water forum raises alarm for Butte County

Grayson Edgemon

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The Butte Environmental Water Council spent last Thursday’s meeting expressing grave concern for the conditions of water ownership, wildlife and how little time there is to act in California. 

The Tuscan Water District, which consists of the 25 richest farmers in Butte County, has spent $300,000 over the past two years to form a private organization called ‘Agricultural Groundwater Users of Butte County’ with the purpose of privatizing water aquifers. In order to own the water, the AGUBC would have to extract water from an aquifer supply and recharge it to a different one for future use.  

“We’ve got some real problems and I’m really glad these people are showing up that want to help work on these things,” council member John Scott said. “I love Butte County and I want to make sure that we don’t get economically destroyed by people down south who really don’t care.”

Scott’s goal is to slow efforts to attempt to artificially recharge the water aquifers. By not allowing surface water districts to recharge the groundwater, a process that hasn’t been proven reliable yet, the water remains publicly owned.

With the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act back in 2014, regional agencies are allowed to control the development and implementation of projects toward preserving water basins. 

The solutions given by the council is to vote in the next election against the Tuscan Water District, plant trees in the Camp Fire footprint and to demand transparency of those in power through meaningful public participation.

“The most difficult problem that we are going to have here in Butte County is to help inform and educate and get our public decision-makers to understand how little time we have,”  land use attorney and speaker at the meeting, Richard Harriman said.

Grayson Edgemon can be reached at [email protected]