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Lathrop steps up to protect groundwater

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POSTED March 13, 2017 12:54 a.m.

Lathrop officials as they kept a watchful eye on too much water in the San Joaquin River took a step last week toward making sure that residents and businesses don’t use too much groundwater.

And when it comes to preserving the groundwater basin, Lathrop just wants a seat at the table. 

Last week the Lathrop City Council embraced a resolution that approves a joint powers agreement establishing the Eastern San Joaquin Groundwater Authority for Sustainable Groundwater Management Act – a fancy way of saying people that will monitor the groundwater basin that has been so pivotal in getting through California’s four-year drought. 

The basis for the action is another state mandate requiring users in various water basins not to pump more water than is replaced during a given year. The authority’s goal is to determine the best course of action to make sure that cities aren’t take more of the vital resource than can ever be replaced.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which were a series of bills that were approved by Governor Jerry Brown in 2015 to preserve the groundwater basin and prioritize the natural resources, will completely change the way that cities had previously turned to the ground to get their way – making what was once a free-for-all into a structured and organized system with the hope of preserving the aquifer. 

But politics could come into play in this arena as well. 

While Lathrop, which gets the majority of its water from ground wells, is a relatively small piece of the puzzle, other neighboring cities draw much more water from the same aquifer. According to City Manager Steve Salvatore, simply getting a seat at the larger table to discuss how this will proceed is the first step towards protecting the groundwater that Lathrop residents rely on for everything from drinking to irrigating. Without having a seat at the table, he told the council when describing the item last Monday night, it takes Lathrop’s interests away.

An initial $5,000 contribution to the new entity was approved as part of the action. The newly formed group will begin the budgeting process for the upcoming year – operated like any other municipal organization. 

 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email jcampbell@mantecabulletin.com or call 209.249.3544. 

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