North County water war headed for court?
September 4, 2013
Water issues in the North County pitting large agricultural interests against domestic users may eventually devolve into court battles, and that does not bode well for anyone. (Los Angeles Times)
Adjudication of water rights to the 790-square-mile Paso Robles aquifer — in which a judge appoints a so-called “water master” to determine how supplies with be shared — could prove unsatisfying for many users.
The aquifer’s level has dropped more than 70 feet over the past decade, and has been exacerbated by a three-year drought. This is causing private rural wells to go dry, and diminishing land values in large areas over the aquifer.
Such court-mandated division of water resources has happened 22 times in California, including cases on both sides of the Paso Robles supply, in the Santa Maria Valley and Monterey County.
Already there have been rumblings of lawsuits in the wake of a recent decision by San Luis Obispo County supervisors to initiate an emergency ordinance capping new uses of water without showing a 1:1 offset in usage.