August 25, 2021 - Topic: Tuscan Water District. Jim McCabe, lawyer, Jim Brobeck (Water Policy Analysist, AquAlliance)

Last night, over 140 showed up at the Chico Masonic Center to learn about an application to form a new water district called the Tuscan Water District. And over 120 people who tuned in via Zoom.  The event had only been scheduled late last week, so the very large turnout suggests that interest and even concern about the formation of this new district.

The evening started with three speakers, followed by questions from attendees.  The first speaker was Paul Behr, an almond farmer and the former chair of the Rock Creek Reclamation District.  Paul Behr shared his story about his experience with the members of the organization Agricultural Groundwater Users of Butte County (AGUBC), and that when he was refused to give them support of the Tuscan Water District, they worked to oust him from the very reclamation district that he has founded over 40 years ago.

The second speaker of the night was lawyer and domestic well-user Jim McCabe.  Jim McCabe, like a trial lawyer laying out his case, talked about how and why the Sustainability Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was create and why the AGUBC was petitioning the state of California to create this new water district.  Essentially, McCabe argued, the AGUBC is trying to subvert the spirit of SGMA by excluding the various stakeholders from major decisions about Butte County’s groundwater.

And finally, Aimee Raymon, a systems engineer, discussed the unspoken costs involved in creating this water district, delivering on the vague objectives in the application, she estimated $60 million on the low end, and the increased taxes that would most likely impact water users throughout the county, not just within the water district.

Towards the end of the evening, Butte County Supervisor Debra Lucero listed the timeline for this application to become a full on water district, a timeline suggesting that this could happen within the next few weeks.

Now you may be wondering why you have not heard of the proposed Tuscan Water District until now.  But here on The Real Issue, we have been following the progress of the AGUBC for over two years, and we have noticed that they have not put a lot of effort into educating the public about themselves, nor about the implications of this new water district.

So, tonight on The Real Issue, we will spend the entire hour on understanding the proposed Tuscan Water District, who is behind this effort, how it will impact the future of Butte County, and how this effort compares to what happened in the Owens Valley.

During the first part of the program, we will talk with Jim McCabe about the proposed Tuscan Water District itself, and then during the second part of the program, we will talk with Water Policy Analyst with AquAlliance Jim Brobeck about how this effort to privatize the water in Butte County fits within the statewide effort to move the water from the North State down to the south.

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