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All dried up

Press Democrat Editorial
Jan 14, 2007

Fear of well monitoring is understandable, but now what?

No one welcomes intrusions by a government agency, whether that agency is listening to phone calls, opening “suspicious” mail or monitoring groundwater use – as Sonoma County was considering doing.

Around 200 people showed up at a Planning Commission meeting on Thursday to express displeasure at a proposal that would have required all wells to be monitored. Setting aside the fact that the idea had been dropped months ago, the protests were understandable: Who wants the county coming onto their property to see how much water is being used?

Still, these property owners might one day regret their opposition to monitoring. Sonoma County has the second largest number of wells in California (40,000), but no reliable way to determine how new wells might affect neighboring property owners.

Monitoring would have provided useful data about water levels, quality and flow. The county still plans to get this information from new wells. Hopefully, the Board of Supervisors will also create a voluntary monitoring program for existing well owners.

The only thing worse than government intrusion is turning on the faucet and realizing that the well is dry.