California – long considered the “Wild West” where groundwater is concerned – appears poised for major changes. Three laws recently passed by the Legislature give local agencies broad power to restrict groundwater pumping when necessary and even impose criminal penalties and fines equivalent to a misdemeanor.

Nimbus Fish hatchery
A panel discussion Tuesday on salmon fishing on the American River concludes the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s speaker series at the Nimbus Hatchery in Rancho Cordova.
As California’s prolonged drought stretches into another autumn, debates have intensified over how to balance competing water needs: urban vs. rural; people vs. fish; north state vs. south. Against that backdrop, The Sacramento Bee spoke with a trio of local water experts about what the drought means for the Sacramento area and how the region should adapt and respond. This is the second installment in our series.
GT32L8F6J.7Senior Photographer
California is still a long way from meeting Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for a 20 percent cut in water consumption during the drought, but it is making progress. In July, statewide water use dropped 7.5 percent, according to new data.
GB52US4F5.6Staff Photographer
If you can’t buy conservation land, the next best thing is renting.
Three small earthquakes were detected Sunday in rural areas of Northern California, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
G8G2USCR5.3Staff Photographer
The collapse of real estate prices from 2007-2012 allowed conservation groups to buy thousands of acres in prime Sierra locations at cut-rate prices. The once-private areas are meant to be open for public recreation.
Sacramento City Unified School District students are learning how to utilize aquaponics to produce plants, fruit and vegetables in an urban garden at Luther Burbank High School as a component of the Summer of Service program.

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