A Northern California nonprofit is vying to strengthen Siskiyou County’s groundwater regulation by requiring a permit for any activity — including water bottling — that extracts groundwater for use outside the county.
Mount Shasta Ecology (MSE) Project Manager Phoenix Lawhon Isler said an initiative to place the issue on the November ballot was born after MSE noticed Siskiyou County doesn’t have a groundwater extraction clause for water bottling facilities.
“We are trying to expand so it covers all our groundwater in the county,” Isler said.
According to a news release, the MSE ballot initiative revises the Siskiyou County water ordinance to require extraction permits for all county groundwater resources and removes exemptions that let water bottling companies extract and export water without a permit.
The permit process also triggers California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) environmental review processes, the release said.
MSE must collect more than 1,350 qualified signatures from registered Siskiyou County voters to get the initiative placed on the November ballot.
Isler said the group will begin collecting signatures in mid- to late-April. The release said petitions must be completed by the end of April.
If the ballot passes, Isler said, the change would mean anyone extracting groundwater for water bottling would be required to first obtain an extraction permit and undergo an environmental impact review.
Isler pointed out that only a few Siskiyou areas, including Tulelake and Scott Valley and Shasta Valley, require groundwater pumping permits.
Isler said she does not believe the measure will apply to the recently built Crystal Geyser water bottling facility in Mount Shasta.
“Any such project in the future would need a permit,” Isler said.
The Crystal Geyser plant was previously operated by Coca-Cola, and before that, by Dannon. According to the company’s website, the facility’s average water use will be 115,000 gallons per day. The L.A. Times reported that number could peak to 217,000 gallons per day.