Board may lift water rules on homeowners after lawmakers suggest drought is over

    File photo/MGN

    The State Water Board may change regulations put on residential homeowners after recent rainfall made way for improvements in the drought.

    Some farmers, such as Tom Frantz, say people need to continue to conserve to help bring up the groundwater tables, which have been dipping ever since the drought began.

    "The drought may be over for this year, but that doesn't make up for the last four years," says Frantz.

    He and some farmers on the east side of the valley will not have to pump water from the ground this year, which will help bring up water tables slightly. But Frantz says we need at least three years of above average rainfall for us to see a difference.

    "It's very nice to have almost double the rainfall, but that will not put groundwater levels as high as four years ago," says Frantz.

    For the past five years, the Kern County Department of Agriculture has had to submit disaster regulations to help farmers during the drought with things like insurance aid.

    "The rains are great, but different things like timing is very important. The rains need to come at the right time for the right crop, so right now this is great for range land, and we are really hopeful and optimistic that next year we won’t have to submit a disaster declaration," says Cerise Montanio, agriculture biologist for the Kern County Agriculture Department.

    Montanio says there's uncertainty surrounding when farmers will see some relief since water tables have been depleted for many years, and it will take time to replenish them.

    "It’s going to take many years to recover from the lack of rain, and you can’t predict what Mother Nature is going to do," says Montanio.

    The Water Resources Board is expected to vote on whether or not to lift water regulations on homeowners on Wednesday.

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