California Plans on Regulating Groundwater Use

Wine growers in California are worried about potential dip in property value of their farms as the state legislature plans to regulate groundwater use, according to Wine Searcher. Although Governor Jerry Brown has not signed the bill yet, it could mean a huge “philosophical change in the ownership of groundwater in California.”

Garrett Buckland, vice president of Napa Valley Grapegrowers is more direct: “It’s a direct attack on agriculture,” hey says. The concern here is that the new law may create clear winners and losers. According to farmer Randy Diffenbaugh, who is a member of a water-use advisory board in Paso Robles, “land with the right to take groundwater could immediately be worth 15 times as much as land without it.”

Although European farmers have been successful in implementing dry farming, Californian vintners have more difficulty, especially as rainfall levels continue to dwindle. “Putting limits on what an individual property owner can use immediately changes the property value structure,” said Buckland. 

Some grapegrowers, however, concede that the regulation might be beneficial in the long term. “Groundwater use is kind of a free-for-all-right now,” said Hilary Graves from Paso Robles. “I have two daughters. I don’t know if they’re going to continue with the family farming business, but if that’s the case, I’d like for them to have water.” [Wine Searcher] [Photo: Flickr/Anthony Quintano]