SLO County water ordinance not extended

October 2, 2013
Debbie Arnold

Debbie Arnold

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday against extending an 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.

Due to the death of Supervisor Paul Teixeira in June, all four sitting supervisors need to vote in favor of extending the ordinance for another two years. It is currently slated to end on Oct. 11.

Supervisors Bruce Gibson, Adam Hill and Frank Mecham were in favor of the two-year extension.

Supervisor Debbie Arnold, the lone vote against the extension, voiced her concern about the impact on working families and the economy. She noted that the county had not done an economic analysis of the ordinance to determine how many jobs would be lost.

The meeting ended shortly after 4 p.m. with the board agreeing to continue the hearing to next Tuesday. If the ordinance is not extended for two years during that meeting, the supervisors will reconvene on Oct. 11, the day the emergency ordinance is set to expire.


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My initial question is, was the ordinance effective?

Secondly, without the ordinance, where is the water expected to come from once development and planting resume?

This ordinace was prompted by an out-cry of a few residents with failing wells and I do not know of any wells that have improved since the passing of this ordinance. Secondly, yes planting may resume without this obsticle ordinance. The real hurtle needs to address the Salinas Dam storage for groundwater recharge, as does the Naciemento Dam for Monterey County groundwater recharge to avoid saltwater intrusion.

Any dam adversely affects the natural system as does the taking from the stream flow. At best, where there is a instream dam, flow management can keep the stream healthy but there is still a price to pay, the migratory fish and their ecosystem.

I’d suggest forgetting what you hear and read, take a hike and see for yourself.

I suspect that this is a situation where the effectiveness of the ordinance will be difficult to determine — especially in the short run. Stopping ADDITIONAL draws from the GW Basin will not immediately improve the situation. At best, it will slow the rate of depletion. To turn things around, we need rain — lots of it. (Borrow some from Oregon — September was the wettest in recorded history up there.) If we don’t get enough rain, the next option is to find a fair solution to cut back usage. That may be impossible given differing opinions as to what constitutes fairness.

Even with a moratorium on new wells, without heavy rains existing draws will continue to deplete the GW Basin until the water quality is so bad it requires treatment too expensive to be practical. But those who rely heavily on groundwater draws won’t acknowledge where we are headed as long as they profit from it. This is sad because their long-term interests are best served by acting with foresight now even if it is costly.

As a South County resident, I am relieved that I don’t have to deal directly with the consequences of this. We have our problems too but the solutions are simpler if we pay attention before it is too late.

How refreshing to hear an elected representative question the affect a Board action will have on the public while simultaneously being pressured by a mob mentality.

Our County Public Works is falling all over themselves to majically form a Ground Water Special District, discussing how LAFCO will support this and drueling over the funding that can be sucked from each and every property owner. How convienient the term emergency plays into this land grab.

There is allot going on so stay tuned on your broadband internet connection, the only live option to remotely follow your public meetings being held during the work week. Radio is no longer an option, what happend to Radio Free San Luis Obispo County?

Thank you Supervisor Arnold for considering the long term public benefit, as it applies to the priviledge of property ownership. Please consider that County Counsel, County Public Works and our County LAFCO may have a conflict of interest, their paycheck funding source.

A few people’s wells have run dry, yet how many hundreds/thousands of people had the fore site to invest their hard earned dollars into drilling their wells deep enough to weather a drought? Once again, it’s the people who did things on the cheap that think the rest of their community doesn’t have the right to what they paid for.

It would be nice if you could provide a reference to this law, I have failed to find it.

Thanks in advance

Question meant for wise guy, below


SpeakTruth, didn’t your mother teach you not to taunt and make fun of the little people on your way up the ladder because you might meet up with them again on your way down?

I was taught to do things right the first time so that they wouldn’t have to be done a second.

The drought isn’t what has caused the water table to drop precipitously in just a few years. The fault for that lies in the rapacious wine industry.

Thank you for articulating Debbie’s position better than I ever could, if you can’t afford to chase the falling water table, ‘ef you! You don’t matter, go rent an apartment in town, you don’t belong here anymore.

I thought Arnold’s position included finding low-interest loans to help “folks” who’s wells went dry…

Baloney. There’s only so much water in the ground. When it’s gone, it’s gone. You can drill your well to China, but good luck finding anything other than hot lava along the way. Blaming those whose wells have gone dry is about as intelligent as blaming the caterpillar for becoming a butterfly.

“the people who did things on the cheap that think the rest of their community doesn’t have the right to what they paid for.” So you think corporations who suck all the water out of the ground are entitled to it? Hopefully, you don’t have grandchildren so you can safely ignore what is done today that will affect them and not be damned by them for your lack of “fore site.”

By law, first priority for water is supposed to be given for domestic use. Agriculture and other business uses come afterwards.

We should not be destroying property values and forcing people to move in order for a small number of profiteers to be able to suck up all the water and sell it for their own benefit while leaving average citizens high and dry.

Water in the aquifer is a public resource to be managed for the benefit of all. Allowing some businesses to suck it all up and sell it without compensation to others in the community is not in the spirit of the law or in the best interest of the community.

In this case, regulation is needed in order to preserve the rights of the citizens.

A reasonable compromise would keep the ordinance in effect in some form until a special Water District is formed that will serve all its users fair and just…you know, the neighboring thing to do.

Ya just don’t want the wine in SLO North County turning to vinegar with a boycott of the region….now that would be no es bueno para los negocios, No?

….maybe Superbisor Arnold doesn’t wants to get reelected with her patented “economy & jobs” argument….its a little deeper issue than that.

Somehow, equating “losing jobs” v. “no water for grandma” isn’t going to win ya votes.

…time to recruit some different advisors Supervisor Arnold.

A problem that has been building for 30 years should not require a knee-jerk emergency response.

There is time to consider the ramifications. It is a crisis because bruce gibson wants it to be a crisis so he can further his hummingbird agenda. It’s a crisis because bruce isn’t going to be re-elected, so he can’t grab power for his anti-everything packagers next term. He has to do it now. We don’t.

The emergency is the BOS’ realization that the north-county wine industry is completely out of control, and has zero regard for the future of the Paso GW Basin and those who depend on it.

Water is a natural resource. It is supposed to be for ALL Americans: past, present, future.

It isn’t supposed to be gobbled up by gluttonous piggy winemakers in a decade.

Can you say….

On your mark….get set……go!!!!! Plant Plant Plant, Build Build Build, Hurry Before they Change Their Minds!

Wonder how the code enforcement officers feel after getting slammed and then – ‘oh never mind’.

Thank You Debbie at least there is some sanity on the board. Solutions can be found without killing the economy. I think Mecham must go! Hill wants to kill the North County so jobs and business’s will all be in south county. Mecham is helping him!

No, Arnold is part of the problem. The problem is the piggy wine industry which will drive the GW basin to failure in this generation if they are not stopped.

Shout-out to Arnold: “oink-oink”

My mother’s well went dry off Union Rd….a family ranch she’s had for 50 years, same well too. I moved to Alaska two years so I could find a job!!!!!!!!!!! Who cares if there are lost jobs. Go elsewhere like I had to and get one like I did.


She had the well for 50 years. 50 years of free water. She should have saved some of the money she had saved in not having to pay for water all of these years and used it now to drill deeper now.

WRONG! The wineries and vineyards are always going to be able to drill deeper and suck more water than your average homeowner. No matter how much money you spend and no matter how deep you drill, the businesses will always be able to go farther and suck more and leave the average citizen dry and desperate.

Oh, and by the way, even if you have a well, there are costs associated with power and upkeep.

What arrogance with your “let them eat cake” attitude!

it’s not just a matter of drilling deeper, it’s a matter of dwindling resources you fool. Nothing is free, it cost money in maintenance and the pumping of the water with the use of electricity. Buying new pumps, calling Miller. For free you think you idiot?

You don’t seem to get it. What you are asking for is not only give water right for vineyards but also for yourselves. You will end up with a monitor on your well and most likely have to pay for your water and maintain your well. That’s what you are asking for. There are many solutions but the only one your going to get strips your water rights. Living in a rural area has its issues. iI shouldn’t have to pay for your decisions. PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN TOWN MAINTAIN THERE WATER SYSTEMS TO. AND THEY PAY TO HOOK UP (ABOUT 25,000 CURRENTLY) AND ABOUT 100+ A MONTH.

When I pay for my water rights to the governing body, what is it that I am getting? What do my rights (given to me for money) consist of? Do you know FineWine?

That’s the spirit, FineWine. As long as you have water and dirt cheap illegals to pick your grapes, to heck with everyone else. You exhibit the true feelings of the wine elite in the North County. Any wonder that we don’t like the wine elites?

You must not like jobs either!

You say free water, does the water just flow out of the ground for the taking? No, wells must be maintained, electricity, pump replacements, new pipe and the list goes on. I would argue the cost of all that with my own well that I have paid more for water than a city user. I just had my well tested and the water level has dropped over 100 feet in twenty years. If a river was flowing through my property and I damned it up to restrict what my neighbors received I would have a lawsuit on my hands. This is what these corporate wineries are doing to our aquifer. As with any resource, it should not boil down to who has the most money wins

Thats just wrong!. No one damned anything up and the wineries drill deeper not even in the same basin. The aquifers are not connected and it is not like a river. The ignorance on this board is almost unbelievable.

If you have to stoop to blaming the victim, your argument fails before it is even started.

You have the same kind of ethics Debbie Arnold has. Oink-oink.

What a jerk. You must live in a city and get your water from a pipe if you think a well is “free water.”

Maybe mom should move to Alaska — maybe she’ll find water up there.

She, and you, ought to be thankful you got to use easy, shallow, water for 50 years.

What an attitude: “When people take all your water, be happy you had water before and now move!”

Clearly we need to define “your” water.

Is it what you have “historically” used? If so, when does the clock start for history?

A slick spinner could make a case for Tammy’s mom depleting the resource for 50 years. To what do we attribute this entitlement?

What a dumb argument. The grape people drained the aquifer, not Tammy’s mother. She had plenty of water, and so did the neighbors, till the greedheads arrived with their huge straws and sucked the life out of the ground. Only good thing about this is they will put themselves out of business if this keeps up. And they’ll have drained the ground of water that might have been useful for other forms of development. So instead of grapes, golf courses and subdivisions we’ll have sagebrush, tumbleweeds and antelope ranging free all over the Paso basin. So there, greedhead.

Racket is another wine elite–out for himself and no one else matters.

ad ho-huminem.

Truth is, I am out for fairness. Ultimately, fairness needs to be based on acreage owned in the watershed (because that is a fair divisor of all rain that falls in the watershed).

Fairness should not be based on mom living here 50 years. The importance of out long-time family farmers is huge, but it should not give them any more right to “our” water than you or I have.

You seem to be a hydrological ignoramus along with all the other demonstrations of that trait. So you think rainfall is the problem? What a hoot!

What “jobs” are they talking about? Undocumented workers at harvest time? Part-time minimum-wage cashiers in the vanity tasting rooms?

People who own and work for these wineries should be social pariahs. Their piggy me-first-who-cares-about-you-and-your-kids attitude will drive the GW basin to failure.

Are you kidding me? Look around at the town. Do you know no one who works in a hotel, restaurant, downtown shop, operates a tour company or even teaches . This town has boomed with jobs BECAUSE of the wine industry and to criticize everyone who benefits from the wine industry you are looking at a giant portion of the population. We are not all money grubbing land owners who are trying to suck up every once of water. We live here too and not all of the wineries are sucking up large portions of water and many of the smaller wineries do their part by dry farming vineyards so to put all wineries in a lump of “piggy me first who cares about you and your kids attitude” makes you look ignorant and is bad for the entire community. Instead why don’t we work with the wineries to build a water saving plan.

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