County investigating possible water ordinance violators

September 25, 2013

vineyardsSan Luis Obispo County code enforcement staffers are investigating a dozen reports of people violating a temporary water ordinance that prohibits the planting of new vineyards in the Paso Robles groundwater basin area under most circumstances.

On Aug. 27, the Board of Supervisors adopted the urgency ordinance that prohibits new development and the planting of crops in the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin area unless proposed projects save as much water as they use. For example, if a property owner converts a golf course into a vineyard, which would use substantially less water, the conversion and new planting would not violate the ordinance.

Shortly after the ordinance went into effect, residents began turning in their neighbors for allegedly planting vineyards in the dark of night. The complaints have resulted in 12 investigations.

The new ordinance says that new vines had to be planted by Aug. 17 unless the property owner had a contract in place to purchase the vines, which could cause an economic hardship if broken.

If county staffers determine a property owner violated the ordinance, it is likely the farmer would be ordered to remove the crops.

Upon expiration of the 45-day ordinance, the supervisors can extend it for two years.




  1. the guy paso says:

    We need names. I need to know who to hate on

    (12) 14 Total Votes - 13 up - 1 down
    • Robert1 says:

      The other guy that is today’s societal montra. Always the other guy.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      Don’t waste your time hating. Put pressure on the BOS to fine these ***holes.

      (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
    • Jorge Estrada says:

      I’m Jorge Estrada but you don’t need to hate me or anybody else. We all need to improve our work ethics, learn to say no if no is what you truly feel and participate in ways that insure that our reps are accountable. Soon they will ask to extend this ordinance without data to justify anthing other than controling the rights of the individual.

      (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  2. racket says:

    1) Seems like a power grab wherein the BOS is asserting control over something outside their purview.

    2) Interesting math, probably incorrect, is that all the vines in PR basin in total use about the same water as all the houses. This is a no-growther wet dream. Kick all the Roblans, Templars and ‘Tascarans out for overtaxing the resource.

    (26,000 acres of vines @ .45 acre-feet = 11,700 a-f versus
    40,000 households @ .25 acre-feet = 10,000 a-f)

    (-3) 13 Total Votes - 5 up - 8 down
    • SLOBIRD says:

      You show the figures for watering the grape vines and I am sure it is an error on your part, but could you talk about the water that is used to process and bottle the vino. That is a lot of usage everyone is not talking about! Wineries use water for more than just growing the grapes. Some of those wineries with the “visitor’s centers”, lawns, landscaping, wedding and parties activities, wine tasting, etc. also use water. A winery in doing their entire operation uses a lot of water for more that growing vines. Just tell the whole story if you want to give stats, give them all!

      (10) 16 Total Votes - 13 up - 3 down
      • racket says:

        Only numbers I’ve got are statewide average vineyard water use.

        Let’s use your numbers for winery use, but let’s use a specific number, rather than just “a lot.”

        (-1) 5 Total Votes - 2 up - 3 down
        • MaryMalone says:

          Then your information is incomplete, and your comparison is invalid.

          The residential water use is for the property’s consumption, in total.

          The water used by grape vines is only a part of the wine-factories’ property’s consumption.

          (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
          • racket says:


            In your non-numerical correction of my comparison, does the “property’s consumption” include water used offsite to benefit the property dwellers?

            My number for family of four annual water use (25% of an acre foot, or 80,000 gallons) does not include any off site water needs, like flushing to toilet at work, or misting your vegetables at New Frontiers, or, say, processing the tomatoes in your spagetti sauce. I suspect if we included all those water uses as “property-specific” water uses, the number would increase fivefold or more.

            I thought the article was about vineyards, and the County’s attempt to reign them in. So my remarks above addressed that.

            In any event, we are splitting hairs, the bigger issue is whether the community agrees with the BOS creating criminals out of thin air at whim. I strongly disagree with that.

            (-3) 3 Total Votes - 0 up - 3 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      Does this include the evaporation from the “steam ponds” storing water? Does it include the production of wine? How about water to run the drunken visitors centers?

      (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
  3. Jorge Estrada says:

    Why can’t the farmers understand that during this so-called temporary ordinance, they need to stop new farming so the cities, who are exempt, can plant new houses.

    Has anyone ever heard of the Salinas River, the river that recharges the so-called Paso Robles Ground Water Basin. What’s up with arguing over the puddle and not the river? The same river that would first recharge the seven mile lake that San Luis Obispo sucks over the hill, next recharges Atacadero’s sub-basin, next the Templeton straw in the river and finally Paso Robles’s the ever expanding city.

    Looks like the city gang has taken on the farmer gang and with education our children can move into this adult gangmanship too. Personally I dislike the term gang or turf but the refined adult verbage only sounds better.

    (1) 23 Total Votes - 12 up - 11 down
    • FineWine says:

      That’s the point George this isn’t about water. Nothing in the ordinance fixes anything. It just takes away water rights from county residents and business’s and stops growth within the north county. A priority of supervisor Hill.

      (-1) 29 Total Votes - 14 up - 15 down
      • Jorge Estrada says:

        Yes FineWine, the ordinance does not fix anything but it does attempt to control the water rights of the rural dwellers/ag. Many covet the viewshed of thy neighbor, infact they develope a sense of ownership. With this mind-set cities see their surrounding wide open spaces as a water source too thence pulled it from production. Show me a place where people want to live, pull in all of the water they can and I’ll show you LA. I rest my case.

        (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
    • Citizen says:

      Not farming, Jorge, wine grape growing. Wine is not a necessary food group. Wine is not a necessity. Wine is similar to marijuana. There is no earthly reason to use up our ground water to grow wine grapes (or grow marijuana –should it become legal).

      On the other hand, there is no earthly reason for the city of Paso to approve a housing development of some 1600 houses during a water crisis. Talk about greedy North County water rustlers, the city of Paso is despicable. They can’t even wait for the dust to settle on the county moratorium to find new ways to use up the basin’s water. These people deserve the wrath and scorn of every resident in the North County.

      And, you are correct in your assessment of the Salinas River recharge–that has to be addressed.

      (13) 23 Total Votes - 18 up - 5 down
      • FineWine says:

        @ Citizen, the reality is we don’t need to farm at all we could just buy everything from someone else. Grapes are ag just as wheat and vegetables. Vineyards create tourism which brings jobs and revenue. It’s even better than standard ag and uses less water.

        (-4) 16 Total Votes - 6 up - 10 down
        • hijinks says:

          “Vineyards create tourism which brings jobs and revenue” and pollution and drunken drivers and idiots. Real nice thing, that wine tourism.

          (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
          • Tammy says:

            Part-time wine tasting room jobs don’t excite me. So to boast about the jobs the wine industry create, snoooooooooooze

            (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
        • shelworth says:

          Yeah, the wine makers should just buy their grapes at the market like the rest of us do!

          (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down

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