Make Crucial Groundwater Data Publicly Accessible


Target: Speaker of the California Assembly Toni G. Atkins

Goal: Allow public access to reports that contain important groundwater data

In order to regulate valuable groundwater resources properly, researchers and water managers need access to well logs, documents that contain pertinent information about aquifers. While all other western states make these records publicly available, California keeps them hidden, even as it struggles with one of the worst droughts in history. Urge the California State Legislature to make well completion reports accessible. This will greatly improve analysis of groundwater data and our ability to protect these critical resources.

The United States already relies on groundwater to meet half of its water needs. As drought persists and the water in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs runs low, we depend on groundwater even more. Unfortunately, water in deep aquifers does not replenish: it accumulated over millions of years through slow changes in geology, meaning once it is gone, it is gone forever. It is imperative that these precious resources be managed effectively and consumed in a sustainable manner, which is only possible with full access to necessary information.

Well completion reports hold invaluable data about subterranean reservoirs. California is the only western state to restrict access, maintaining a 63-year-old law initially intended to keep the data of well drilling companies secret from potential competitors. This means that even most scientists and researchers cannot view them, drastically reducing access to important knowledge about the groundwater supply. Laurel Firestone, co-director of the Community Water Center in Visalia, said, “We’re basically blindfolding ourselves. If California is going to be serious about managing its groundwater, it can’t possibly do that without accessible and transparent data.”

Groundwater is critical to California’s survival: if it runs out, agriculture will collapse, cities will fail, and ecosystems will die. It is crucial, therefore, that hydrologists and water managers have full access to information so that they can operate knowledgeably. Sign the petition below to demand that the California State Legislature require public disclosure of well logs. With groundwater depleting at an increasing rate, it is more important than ever that California appropriately manage this precious, non-renewable resource.


Dear California State Legislature,

As drought persists, California is drawing on aquifers at an increasing rate. Not only is no legislation in place to limit groundwater consumption, but California is also the only western state that does not make the crucial data contained in well completion reports available to the public. This must change – transparency is important in order for scientists and water managers to understand the state of the aquifers and be able to manage groundwater effectively.

California is relying ever more heavily on groundwater to meet its needs, which is a problem because of the non-renewable nature of this resource. There are unmistakable signs of a groundwater crisis: wells are drying up and farmland is sinking, as the state now derives 60% of its water from aquifers. It is imperative that knowledge about such a significant and valuable resource be accessible to promote informed and sustainable use.

Even Governor Brown insists that transparency is necessary. In 2011, he vetoed a bill to expand well log access because it was still incredibly restrictive and would have imposed criminal penalties for disclosure.

I urge you to draft new legislation that dismantles the secrecy around California’s well completion reports. This is a critical matter: the ability to make informed decisions regarding groundwater use is the only way we can effectively manage and protect this precious resource.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, via Wikimedia Commons

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