Tehama County Supervisor Bob Williams said during Tuesday's weekly board meeting he was prompted to place an agriculture well urgency moratorium ordinance on the agenda after attending a Town Hall gathering in Rancho Tehama, during which residents voiced great concern over the number of domestic wells running dry in the region.
“The residents were blaming the problem on ag wells being drilled in the county,” he said. “The agenda item has caught the attention of a lot of folks.”
He went on to say he was hopeful those with concerns over the problem of domestic wells running dry would be listening to the science, facts and data presented during the discussion on the proposed moratorium.
Matt Hansen, a contender for Williams's supervisor seat in the upcoming election, and Clay Parker, a member of the county's ad hoc committee to develop a proposed ordinance that will provide guidance for both domestic and agricultural well drilling, both give presentations and fielded questions.
Parker said the county would have a groundwater sustainability ordinance on well drilling rules and regulations for consideration and adoption within 30 to 45 days, and asked the board to wait for that ordinance before moving on the urgency moratorium.
Martin Spannaus, a member of the Tehama County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, shared a letter from the bureau asking the board of supervisors to not adopt the urgency moratorium.
Tehama County Environmental Health Director Tim Potanovic weighed in on the discussion, as did Hal Crain, a walnut grower in the county and member of the ad hoc committee.
All said and done, the board voted 4/1 to table the urgency moratorium until further notice.
Supervisor John Leach said he wanted to wait for the ad hoc committees ordinance in lieu of adopting the urgency ordinance.
Supervisor Candy Carlson was the only vote in favor of the moratorium, stating she is very concerned about the number of dry domestic wells in the county and problem it is causing residents.
However, according to Parker, at this time there is no scientific proof or data showing ag wells are the culprit to domestic wells going dry, but more likely the continuing drought.
“I believe we need to look at land use policy,” Carlson said. “To try to satisfy large agriculture growers with deeper pockets isn't the answer either.”
Carlson believed passage of the moratorium would provide the county more time to gather information on the problem.
“It's not the local farmers we need to fear,” she said, “but the bigger ag businesses that come in and seized land at cheap costs then plants all these orchards well away from the river were water is becoming less and less available.”
Supervisor Dennis Garton shared that he has suffered a dry domestic well on this Dairyville property.
“I have one good one and unreported dry well,” he said.
He too agreed that waiting on the ad hoc committee's proposed ordinance was the best decision at this time.