The proposed Siskiyou Headwaters Initiative would remove the exemption allowing water bottlers to extract and export bulk quantities of water from the county without a permit and extend the jurisdiction of the extraction ordinance to include all groundwater within county lines.

The Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center and concerned citizens have submitted a “Notice of Intent to Circulate Petition” to the Siskiyou County Clerk for an initiative that would make two revisions to the existing county groundwater ordinance.

Called the Siskiyou Headwaters Initiative, it would remove the exemption allowing water bottlers to extract and export bulk quantities of water from the county without a permit, and extend the jurisdiction of the extraction ordinance beyond current "narrowly defined basins" to all groundwater within county lines, according to a press release.

“Most people do not know that Siskiyou County's existing groundwater ordinance prohibits the unpermitted extraction and export of water. Were it not for the exemption that lets the bottling industry extract and export water entirely without a permit, the laws governing groundwater in Siskiyou County would be quite strong,” initiative proponent Angelina Cook of Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center states in a press release.

“Since water is an essential ingredient for functioning ecosystems, all bulk water exports should be subject to permits, monitoring and environmental review. The exemption undermines the county’s ability to hold the water bottling industry to the same standards applied to agricultural and other commercial uses of water.”

By extending the groundwater ordinance to cover all sub-surface water in the county, Cook says the Headwaters Initiative “protects sustainable yield for the mid-Klamath watershed and Sacramento headwaters.”

County counsel is scheduled to issue a Ballot Title and Summary for the measure by the end of March, according to the press release.

Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center is organizing volunteers to assist in gathering signatures during April 2016.

If sufficient qualified signatures are gathered within the designated timeframe, the ordinance amendments can be adopted directly by the county supervisors or go to a vote of the people in November. 

The Bioregional Ecology Center can be contacted at (530) 926-5655 or send email to angelina@mountshastaecology.org.