Common sense use of water resouces

November 26, 2013

water2OPINION By CAROLEE KRIEGER

My name is Carolee Krieger and I represent the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN, online at www.c-win.org). We are a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to common sense use of California’s scant water resources. We provide context and clarity on water issues for decision makers at all levels. We have several comments to make on San Luis Obispo County’s water policy:

SLO’s State Water Costs

In 1993, SLO County voters wisely limited their contract for State Water to 4,830 acre feet. They could have opted for more – up to 25,000 acre feet.

Why was this an intelligent move on the part of the electorate? The lion’s share of the cost of state water for SLO and Santa Barbara Counties was in construction of the delivery system. By choosing a small delivery option, SLO limited state water deliveries to 4,830 acre feet. But they also limited the amount of debt county ratepayers are obligated to pay.

Also in 1993, the California Dept. of Water Resources promised 97% delivery to each contract allocation. This year, DWR acknowledged that only 5% of each contract likely will be delivered; for SLO, that means about 241 acre feet. In other words, you are paying for infrastructure designed for deliveries of 4,830 feet, but you will be receiving a wholly inadequate fraction of that amount.

State water, in short, has proved unreliable. It is not needed in wet years and is not available in dry years.

Typically, construction costs associated with state water deliveries have been greatly underestimated. In Santa Barbara County, voters were told that their share of the Coastal Branch would cost about $270 million. In the end, Santa Barbara County is paying $1.76 billion for state water. SLO’s caution two decades ago was well placed.

Paso Robles Groundwater

There is some misunderstanding about the overdraft of the groundwater basin of Paso Robles. We would like to call your attention to the implications of declaring a ground water basin in overdraft. Throughout the state, private water entrepreneurs are eyeing ground water basins as proprietary water banks maintained for sale and purchase. In order to have a basin declared a water bank, it must be declared in overdraft. When a private party moves water to the water bank, local users’ rights become murky. Landowners may lose their ground water rights. This would prove catastrophic to farmers in the Paso Robles region.

Two decades ago, Santa Maria was threatened by this same threat. Water purveyors sought to exploit the Santa Maria groundwater basin for groundwater banking. The basin was said to be in overdraft. Landowners in the area realized they would lose their water rights if this banking scheme moved forward. In 1997, they sued to adjudicate the basin to prevent it from becoming a water bank. They won their case. Take this as a cautionary tale: You want to make sure your basin is genuinely in overdraft before declaring it so. Beware of management programs that include powers of groundwater replenishment. It’s banking in disguise.

Please visit our website, www.c-win.org, for more information about California water. If we can assist you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 


7 Comments

  1. water_heist says:

    I applaud the land owners who are standing up for their property and water rights. It is a shame that the SLO BOS seems to be complicit in usurping rights and being snowed by leaders of local groups with yard signs, etc. who they themselves, knowingly or unknowingly are in fact are being driven by “Out of County” interests, both public and private. Do your own research on the Kern Water Bank for a prelude to what Billionaires and local yocal SLO Politicians want for our County. What a disaster in the making!

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  2. tomsquawk says:

    water is big complicated business…..prepare to get hosed

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Jorge Estrada says:

    It’s true that one of the biggest cash cows for government is water. With land you purchase title, that which requires you to possess and pay taxes. With that comes list of rights, unless reserved, your water rights is almost always a right that government likes to discuss (da). In my opinion, if there is a discussion about altering the of ownership of water rights, the discussion needs to include a proposed purchase price or there is no discussion.

    Everyone should continually have public and private discussions about the cost of government. With a lower cost, there is a lower need to TAKE your life.

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  4. Black_Copter_Pilot says:

    Looks lke there are many angry people but few that understand how this whole thing works. I expected much more play on this topic

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

    • tomsquawk says:

      more play on this topic equals people about being to be fleeced

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  5. whatisup says:

    The author wrote:
    In order to have a basin declared a water bank, it must be declared in overdraft. When a private party moves water to the water bank, local users’ rights become murky. Landowners may lose their ground water rights. This would prove catastrophic to farmers in the Paso Robles region.

    Would the author please take the time to explain the murky details of these statements. We have a billionaire building reservoirs on his North County property. What does the billionaire know that EVERYBODY else does not?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

    • water_heist says:

      That Billionaire has perfected the taking of groundwater rights through political maneuvering. Review the County information and their reports on plans for groundwater management that discuss Water Banking, Paper Water (the mortgage industry of the Water Business) Joint Powers (mechanism to allow private ownership and trading of water). Read the reports you will be shocked how your rights are taken. You will not even notice the taking until they are all gone. If the truth were widely known about the greater plan for our basin, no one, whether AG, Rural Residential, City, basically any property owner would never agree with giving their rights away. Finally water is a precious resource that needs to be conserved, not taken.

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