The GMD 4 board often gives testimony on water issues in the state - particularly on agency regulations and Legislative bills that deal with groundwater. During the March board meeting a suite of such regulations was considered by the board and their testimony was approved for presentation early next month. Of the suite of DWR regs to be heard, this post will deal only with the two proposed regs dealing with what is essentially a brand new process dealing with complaints received by DWR that deal with water right impairments.
The board is concerned over one section that the proposed language allows the chief engineer to require hydrologic testing and the installation of observation wells as part of any impairment complaint investigation, and there is no indication of who is to pay for this testing and extra installations - if required. Since there is also proposed to be a much more active role for the GMD's (if the complaint is within a GMD) the board feared that we may be standing some or all of these costs. We are recommending that the language be clarified to say that DWR is to pay all these costs as a matter of their investigation process.
In all other respects but one, these two proposed regulations (one deals with direct, well-to-well impairment cases while the other deals with regional water level decline situations where everyone is being impaired, but no one is directly the cause) are very well crafted and are board supported based on the specific and reasonable processes outlined and the thoughtful role provided for the GMD's in those processes.
The one lingering issue is that of the chief engineer's authority to claim impairment on behalf of senior water right owners. These regulations are written on the basis that he or she has this authority. Since this is an issue that the board feels should be clarified by the Legislature, they have not included it in their testimony.