As local groundwater agencies throughout California consider how to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, two lawsuits against a Kern County groundwater sustainability agency show the potential implications for agriculture and other businesses with historic, overlying water rights. The cases involve the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority, a groundwater sustainability agency overseeing a critically overdrafted aquifer that covers part of eastern Kern County and parts of Inyo and San Bernardino counties.
Two lawsuits accusing the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority of ramming through a plan that ignores water rights and, according to one plaintiff, is intended to “destroy agriculture” were filed this week.
At issue is a controversial $2,000-per-acre-foot fee approved by the authority last month that would be charged to certain groundwater users over a five-year period. That money is intended to raise $50 million to buy Central Valley water and, somehow, bring it over the Sierra Nevadas to replenish the overdrafted desert aquifer.