Supervisors direct staff to craft Paso groundwater ordinance

August 7, 2013

water2The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors will consider adopting an emergency ordinance on August 27 that would restrict development and water usage in the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin.

On Tuesday, the supervisors voted 4-0 to direct staff to draft two possible emergency ordinances, which the board will consider for adoption on August 27. The ordinances would prohibit residential and agricultural development in the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin that require new uses of water unless the projects generate water savings elsewhere in the basin that offset the new usage by a 2 to 1 ratio.

One of the proposed ordinances would restrict new water uses in the entire basin, while the other would include only the area that has endured the largest drop in groundwater levels.

In order to adopt an emergency ordinance, the board must vote unanimously for one. Four votes are required to pass an emergency ordinance, and the board currently has four members due to the June death of Supervisor Paul Teixeira.

If the supervisors adopt an emergency ordinance, it will remain valid for 45 days. The board will then have the opportunity to extend the ordinance for two years.

Supervisors Bruce Gibson and Adam Hill expressed firm support for the emergency ordinance as a stopgap measure to deal with the drying of wells in the basin. They said the residents of the groundwater basin are in a crisis, and the supervisors must overcome political differences to resolve the crisis.

Supervisors Frank Mecham and Debbie Arnold voted with Gibson and Hill to direct staff to draft the proposed ordinances, but the two North County supervisors expressed concerns about the proposals.

Mecham said the board should limit development restrictions to the areas most affected by the lowering of groundwater levels. Arnold said the county should use state allotted water that it is currently selling to help rural residents who are losing their wells.

County residents spoke for several hours during public comment Tuesday both in support and in opposition to the proposed emergency ordinances. Several groundwater basin residents said their wells have dried and urged the board to pass an emergency ordinance. Others said the proposed ordinances would constitute a taking of property.

 


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Paso_citizen

Things will have to get much worse – before any real, measurable action is taken. Neither Mecham nor Arnold have the “political will” to take real action now. At the very best, there will be some sort of

silly-minded, half-a**ed step(s) made on the 27th, but no where close to what really needs to be done.


Many more wells will go dry, thousands of more grape vines will be planted, and life will continue. The small landowners are now, and will be for the foreseeable future, at the mercy of those who have the power and money.


The issue of water in Paso is not much different than so many other problems; locally, statewide, and nationally. Gun control, immigration, gay rights, abortion, crumbling infrastructure, same sex marriage, over crowded prisons, unemployment and under employment, rampant increases in cost of education, health care costs, gas prices, cities going bankrupt, and several hundred more issues are crying out for strong leadership from our elected officials. And where is that strong leadership?

Totally missing at all levels.


So back to the water issue in the Paso Basin. Suck it up – it will have to get much worse before it even begins to get better.


localgal

OK Why has no one mentioned one of the most important issues… FIRE! If these home owners have no water than how in the HECK are they going to protect their families and homes if a fire starts? How are their neighbors going to be protected?

There are many factors to consider and it is time for Frank & Debbie step into the light and ask Alex to buy a clue! Let’s also mention Mr. Fuji water who within the year, installed a huge reservoir with a very large water table, that allows for a great deal of Evaporation… now that is one example of a waste of water. There are smart solutions to water conservation where past and future generations will benefit it’s just the question if people have the grace and ethical “where with all” to solve problems that benefit EVERYONE and not their own special interest. Political corruption starts in our own backyards with local and county Governments.


Sarah Bellum

Why hasn’t the water board already acted on this?


R.Hodin

It’s relatively easy politically for Gibson & Hill to be so willing to manage water extraction in districts other than their own. It’s much more challenging for Mecham. As for Arnold, I get the sense that she’s still stuck in the 90s—retrofits? Really? Debbie really needs to get off the ranch now and then and find out how the other 99% really live.


pasowino

I’m glad the staff will be spending the next several weeks preparing an emergency ordinance. Since it requires 4 votes to pass, it seems like a total waste of time considering there is no way in hell Debbie will vote for it and Frank probably won’t either. This was just another delay tactic.


R.Hodin

It’s two weeks of lobbying by the public to counteract the gobbledegook being injected into Arnold’s consciousness by the charming and ever-droning Mike Brown, who (according to his interview on KVEC today) briefs her before each weekly board meeting. Oh, joy!


fat chance

I think we should study it for another five years…..by then all the vineyards will be planted.


jimmy_me

Do the comments of Mecham and Arnold actually surprise anyone? The BOS proposal to draft an ordinance amounts to this: “Draft a document that changes nothing for large water users but also placates small users into thinking that their supervisors are actually looking out for their interests”. Why not protect the water basin by forcing large uses to use “state water” which would thus protect the small users?


R.Hodin

Better to install water condoms on their wells.


“Practice safe irrigation”


MaryMalone

No one should be surprised that the county BOS again put off taking steps to stop the destruction of the Paso groundwater basin.


Debbie Arnold’s demands are a freaking JOKE, and show her ignorance and unwillingness to take a stand FOR the people, even if it upsets some of her cronies.


The “water offset” for development won’t work because those programs, over more than the last decade, have already retrofitted the vast majority of the homes needing refitted. It is difficult to find new homes, since new housing must be built to water efficiency standards, and the older homes have already undergone retrofitting.


Just focusing on the red area of depression is just plain stupid, and Arnold’s demand in that regard makes me wonder how fit she is to be a supervisor.


The GW basin is not sectioned off to match the man-made color drawings of the status of the GW basin. The red area of the greatest depression in the GW level, BEING A DEPRESSION, AFTER ALL, draws in groundwater from other parts of the GW basin. So the rural homes whose wells are going belly-up because of over-development for the GW resource will STILL be at risk for well failure.


As many issues as I have with Gibson and Hill, they are the only two supervisors who seem to actually know what they are talking about, and who are willing to make the difficult decisions necessary to protect the Paso GW basin.


I feel sorry for the county’s planning department, to be assigned such ridiculous tasks as Arnold did, after all of the research and information already done by the planning department staff and others.


Besides wasting planning department’s staff time, it requires delays in action that the Paso GW basin simply cannot afford.


The only people who benefit from Arnold’s time-wasting demands are the vineyard owners who are frantically shoving new vines in the ground, to be sure they can destroy as many rural homeowner wells as possible before definitive action is done.


For all of her “we have to help the homeowners with failing wells” b****hit, Arnold continues to serve the best interests of the big-money folks first, and the rest of the county only when it doesn’t inconvenience her backers.


Very disappointing outcome of the meeting. It looks like our only hope is to have the state or feds step in and force the county to protect one of its major groundwater resources, the Paso GW basin.


Slowerfaster

“Debbie Arnold’s demands are a freaking JOKE, and show her ignorance and unwillingness to take a stand FOR the people, even if it upsets some of her cronies.


I feel sorry for the county’s planning department, to be assigned such ridiculous tasks as Arnold did, after all of the research and information already done by the planning department staff and others.


The only people who benefit from Arnold’s time-wasting demands are the vineyard owners who are frantically shoving new vines in the ground, to be sure they can destroy as many rural homeowner wells as possible before definitive action is done.


Arnold continues to serve the best interests of the big-money folks first, and the rest of the county only when it doesn’t inconvenience her backers.’


Told ya so !

When voters put a loosely educated, anti-science zealot in charge, this is what they all get.

Some get what they deserve. One should be sorry for the rest.


Sky Pilot

Very well put. Debbie is obviously intelligence limited. Maybe Frank too. What part of ‘basin’, do Debbie and Frank not understand. To the water in the basin, north, south, center, east or west has no meaning. What ever side you suck the water out of, gravity always rules and given enough time the water moves thru the water bearing strata and reaches a point of equilibrium and self level’s. That could take years or decades. Put another way its like drawing money out of a ATM in San Miguel from your bank account in Atascadero. If affects the whole account. So while perceived water level’s on the west side are higher than the east side (or visa versa), it does not mean only one part of the ‘basin’ is in trouble. Its the whole thing. Frank and Debbies reluctance to show true grit and act on the problem suggests to me maybe they have a conflict of interest with respect to protecting the ‘basin’.


2STOP IGNORANCE

As I sit in the middle of the road it is comments like this that really make me glad I am a conservative .


Lets get to the real facts.. City of Paso made a huge mistake 19 years ago by turning down the state water project and buying treated water. We all know the Jardine area is one of the hardest hit. Oh ya that is where Paso has their biggest wells. But no one want to talk about that..


Oh ya now we are all paying for it 10 times over


tomsquawk

the cows are out of the barn.