The first question asked at the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board meeting on Friday represented the frustration of growers who are still facing the unknown.

“It’s 2020,” the grower said, who went on to ask the board, referring to growers, “what can they pump?”

The ETGSA board is still working through the process on how much water growers can pump out of the ground. The agency, which covers virtually all of Southeastern Tulare County, must submit a Groundwater Sustainability Plan to the state by January 31.

But while the process to determine how much groundwater individual growers can use continues, growers at the meeting stressed they need to know as soon as possible how much they can pump.

Based on an analysis presented in October, Southeastern Tulare County would have to reduce its groundwater use by 10 percent a year over the next 10 years, beginning this year and 30 percent a year from 2031 to 2040 to have what would be considered groundwater sustainability by 2040.

But while the 10 percent figure is a guide, growers would like to know specifically what they need to do because any reduction on groundwater use would also likely mean a reduction in crops.

One issue covered at Friday’s board meeting was the subsidence of the Friant-Kern Canal. The analysis showed based on current plans to reach sustainability by 2040 in one area the canal would subside by 3.4 feet.

Even if the 2040 sustainability standard was met right now that same area of the Friant-Kern Canal would still subside by less than a foot.

One grower asked if the use of Friant-Kern Canal water would be a mitigating factor in how much groundwater could be pumped. “We’ll have to figure that out,” board chairman Eric Borba said.

But that grower also stressed growers need to know now what to do. “The waiting’s done over,” he said. “People need to know what they can pump.”

Staff stated all of the information presented at Friday’s board meeting would be available at their website, easterntulegsa.come. 

The next board meeting will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, January 17 at the Porterville City Hall City Council Chambers on Main Street.

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