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Gov. Brown Signs Bill To Keep Water Well Drilling Locations Public

SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) -- California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation making public the logs that water well drillers file with the state.

Given privacy concerns, the public may not get precise locations of wells that pull water from the ground for irrigation and drinking. But even general locations may help scientists better understand underground water.

Drilling companies have to file the reports when they create new wells, detailing where they hit water and what underground layers are like. The reports have long been shielded from anyone but the well's owners, government and those cleaning up toxic spills. The state keeps about 800,000 logs.

Water scientists and other advocates have pushed to make the reports public, since the logs provide information about the depth and quality of a water supply. They say the reports are more important now that groundwater is increasingly being tapped to make up for shriveling reservoirs during drought.

About 40 percent of California's freshwater supply comes from underground sources.

Opponents worry that the precise locations of water wells could invite terrorist attacks on water supplies or general attacks on farmers.

The legislation calls for shielding personal information, such as names and addresses of well owners. That could make pinpointing the exact location of a well problematic, for example, if the well and owner share the same address.

Supporters of the law say they hope state water officials will release as much specific information as possible on where wells are located. But they acknowledge that a general description of a well's location can also help scientists figure out where to find clean drinking water underground.

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