The caption goes that Jed Clampett “was shooting food / When through the floor comes a bubbling crude”.
The transformation of the Beverly Hillbillies into instant millionaires exemplifies one of the oldest conceptions in the western world: what’s on your land is yours. This idea predates the founding of America. If you find gold in your garden, that resource is yours.
California wants to change that.
A source near San Diego shared with California Globe a shocking letter that is being quietly delivered to private well owners.
“California is moving toward a world where those who have wells on their own property will be required to meter them and pay the government,” the source writes. “Because in their world, the government owns everything and we’re just tenants.”
The letter is signed by Natalie Stork, Unit 1 Chief of the Groundwater Management Program, and was sent in late July on California Water Boards letterhead, under the authority of Governor Newsom and Jared Blumenfeld, Secretary of Environmental Protection. Beneath the bureaucratic acronyms GSA and SGMA (Groundwater Sustainability Agency and Sustainable Groundwater Management Act) lies an extremely aggressive conception of government authority and its dominance over private property.
The letter reads: “Landowners whose property is in an unmanaged area and contains an operating groundwater extraction well must report the volume of groundwater extracted from the well. The volume of groundwater extraction should be reported as a monthly total. In addition to pumped volumes, reports should include the location of the well and the location and purpose of groundwater use. Groundwater extraction reports are not due to the National Water Board until February 1, 2023. However, if you are required to report, the report must include pumping volumes for each month between the date of receipt of this letter and September 30, 2022.”
It’s not just a bureaucratic hassle. There are costs, of course. The base filing fee is $300 per well, which all extractors are required to report. Then there is an additional charge of $10 per acre-foot with a meter, $25 per acre-foot without. Late filers must pay late fees of 25% per month.
California Globe has contacted Ms. Stork and SGMA to find out how far this letter has been sent and where the State Water Resources Control Board derives the right to charge well owners for water on their own property. This story will be updated to include his comment if either responds.
Meanwhile, the ramifications for property rights are enormous.
“They send letters to the owners telling them that they must declare [if] they only use two acre feet,” observes the source who received the letter. “If they use more, they have to pay an annual fee of $300 for each well, plus they have to measure the water and send a monthly usage report and pay a fee for the water pumped from February 2023. What a big racket! The government does not provide any service, any support, any product, does not even do the billing! It’s all about the citizens. All [the government does] is to cash the check.
According to two people who received the letter, so far no organized resistance to this seizure of private property has emerged. But at least one source expects small fees to rise, which will surely lead to a pushback from residents.
“Fees may seem small today, but they always start small. Then they will soar. Likewise, even if this rules out light home users, it won’t last long. »
Below is a copy of the letter, with potentially identifiable portions redacted to prevent the recipient from being targeted by government authorities who clearly know no bounds.