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Lawmakers approve groundwater management bill

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Amid a third year of drought, state lawmakers began pushing legislation that begins to regulate groundwater.

California is one of the last states in the West with a pump-as-you-please policy.

The Senate on Wednesday passed AB1739 on a 26-11 vote. The bill by Democratic Assemblyman Roger Dickinson of Sacramento would require some local governments to start managing wells and authorizes the state to step in under certain situations if they don't.

Democratic Sen. Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills, who is carrying companion legislation, says over-pumping has led to land subsidence. The bill authorizes groundwater sustainability agencies to install meters and charge fees.

Republicans objected to the legislation, warning about state and local “water police.” They also said the new rules could conflict with property rights.

AB1739 returns to the Assembly.

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