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Groundwater & the Tuscan Aquifer

Protecting Groundwater

BEC's work to protect local groundwater began in the mid-1990s. During 1995-96, BEC served on a committee working to draft a Water Element for the Butte County General Plan.  There were plenty of fireworks between Irrigation District lawyers and BEC advocates. 

Measure F on the November 1996 ballot was the result of BEC Board member Lynn Barris and other farmers' heroic efforts to let the voters decide how to protect Butte County water for all users.  Though Measure F lost to the Irrigation Districts' competing Measure G, many of the details from F were gradually implemented.

In 1997, BEC joined with the Yolo County Irrigation District, Community Alliance of Family Farms (CAFF), and local orchardists to beat back a State proposal to abscond with 450,000 acre feet of ground water from the Sacramento Valley.  BEC then became heavily involved in the CalFed Bay Delta effort and successfully educated agencies and coastal environmentalists of the debilitating impacts if the Sacramento Valley was used as a water bank for transfers. 

In 1999-2000, BEC again served on a Butte County committee to forge resolutions intended to protect local communities and the environment from water sales.

With the State of California's Department of Water Resources (DWR) funding, Butte County initiated another effort to make water sales palatable through the Integrated Storage Investigation.  The family farmers and BEC participated, but the Irrigation Districts didn't like the program and refused to participate.  To accommodate the wealthy Irrigation Districts, a steering committee was formed and renamed the Integrated Watershed and Resource Conservation Plan with only one environmental group (BEC) out of 11 participating entities.  The resulting 2004 document acknowledges that consensus was not reached due to BEC's dissenting opinion regarding artificial aquifer recharge.

July 2013 SHARE INFORMATION: Report "Abnormal" Groundwater Levels

In their July 2013 issue of "Water Solutions," the Butte County Department of Water and Resource Conservation encourages Butte County residents to report "problems with their well." With a very dry spring, and this extreme heat, we'll go ahead and say it: Your well levels might be low.

Print the form to report low groundwater levels, and send it to:

Butte County Department of Water and Resource Conservation
308 Nelson Ave.
Oroville, CA 95965

or sent to The form is not fillable online, but can be accessed on the BCDWRC website and copied/pasted into Word. If your well is in jeopardy, give Butte County the information it needs to make a case against out-of-area water transfers, even if some folks regard these transfers as a "Golden Egg." We know how that story ends!  No matter how lucrative these transfers may seem, we can't drink money.