Steve Sinton sets the record straight

February 20, 2014


One would think that something as expensive as litigation would be founded on sound principles, rather than false accusations against your neighbors and fellow landowners. Neither PRAAGS nor Pro Water Equity have ever suggested or supported the export of our groundwater to Kern County or anywhere else. That is just a fiction created by Ms. Steinbeck to give her something to fight. PRAAGS is not looking for a fight, we are looking for long term solutions to what we believe is a declining water supply.

Ms. Steinbeck has somehow completely twisted my presentation at the SLO Cattlemen’s meeting to make it the exact opposite of what I said. The following is a direct quote from a supporting slide from that presentation that everyone (including Ms. Steinbeck) could see:

“It has never been suggested, nor is it logical, to sell local water to other regions when it is so desperately needed here. However, to ease the recently expressed public concern, language has been added to the petition: The District shall not export water from the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin.”

After that, what I did say is that if surplus water might be available in wet years from the state, the district might buy it and store it in Kern County so that we could bring it into San Luis Obispo County in a dry year when the State Water Project pipeline had excess capacity. Isn’t that the exact opposite of Ms. Steinbeck’s accusation?

The management of water banks and the marketing of water in other places has nothing to do with our focus on stopping our basin from becoming over drafted. Ms. Steinbeck’s litigation is contentiousness without solutions and will do nothing to help solve our local problems. Her “proud belligerency” will do nothing to help us, and in my experience as a water law attorney, will drag on for years in the courts. At the end of that, there will be no more water for us, but the litigation will generate nice revenues for her lawyers.

Her discussion of the right to surplus water is also just a distraction from real issues and solutions. There is no surplus water here, but if a district were created and were to bring us supplemental water, it would be for the sole purpose of stabilizing, and we hope, to restore our groundwater to historical levels.

The Board of Supervisors can surely see through the misinformation being generated by POWR and should support reasonable people working hard for real solutions.

Steve Sinton’s family has been ranching in San Luis Obispo County since 1875. He practiced water law for 20 years before returning full time to the family business of cattle ranching and growing wine grapes.



Mr. Sinton … How do you spell LOBBYIST ?




Just so we are all clear on the issues. We are supposed to be irate over a proposed water district, that could possibly export water that doesn’t exist, through infrastructure that doesn’t exist, while Cindy Steinbeck and her fellow wineries, have been and continue to, export our water out of the basin 750ml at a time? I think I understand!


Finally, someone that makes sense on this board.


Mr. Sinton on the last petition to LAFCO your property was only 1/2 in your own proposed District – why?

Also, you should know being a former DWR & water attorney that the statement “surplus water might be available in wet years” is false – it can NEVER happen because the State Water Project is more than 5 times OVERCOMMITTED. It is physically impossible for there to be a “wet” year resulting in surplus state water.

PRAAGS is petitioning for a “California Water District”. The powers of such a district are enumerated beginning at 35400. Go to 35403. The District you are proposing can cut “exchange deals” with any agency in the state. And, in doing so, can bring in PRIVATE CORPORATONS. 35855.5 Who will profit off this?

Moment of Truth – put in your LEGISLATION that this district does not have the POWER TO EXPORT ANY WATER WHATSOEVER (groundwater OR surface water). Only then will I believe that you are NOT self-interested.


A water district isn’t going to help, the only thing that would help would be to lower the number of acres of vines. The city of Paso Robles is a BIG problem by allowing so many large hotels to be built. With the water district we will be paying more taxes and getting less water.

Jorge Estrada

Yes a water district will mean more taxes but the concern about less is or more water goes like this: We only have so much water to spend so which will create the most taxpayers, Ag or City.


LIAR! I was at the Pear Valley PRAAGS/PWE meeting when they specifically said they were looking to exchange water with SemiTropic.

This guy is so full of Crap his eyes are brown.


SemiTropic, what a name, when it’s actually “semi-desert”. This is the water version of gospel prosperity, only the ministers will get rich, but the North County Tea Party will not betray their masters until their well runs dry, at which time it will be too late. And then they’ll blame Obama.


Cloak and dagger…Smoke and mirrors…take your choice.

Jorge Estrada

I know the Sintons to be hard working, reasonable, rightful owners of land and most of all, brilliant minds. Having said that, on this issue, I disagree with Steve.

By deffinition, Water Banking already occurs on the Salinas River for the benefit of San Luis Obispo. Today the Salinas River can’t afford this overdraft yet the floundering State Water system continues to be the discussed save all.

Why omit SLO’s application for 46,000 acre-feet of Water Banking, the Appropriation of Salinas River water and the statis of this unfinished project from being a party to this resolve???


State water is more than 5 times overcommitted and it is UNREGULATED. The way this district is setting up if we let ANYONE “bank” that water in our basin, whether it be Sinton’s District or SLO County Flood Control, it will mean that we will “put” in 1/5 of 46,000 but have to cough up 46,000 to whoever OWNS it. Further, notice Sinton’s words “will not export water from the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin”. The newly formed district will claim that the water they are exporting is not FROM the PRGWB – instead “banked” SWP. But, now you know the truth – the water that they will export IS PRGWB.

You just have to look over the hill in Kern to see what has happened to them – banking state water has left them in a dire crisis because they have had to export out WAY MORE than they ever put in. Don’t be fooled by this scam because it is rubber stamped by the State because it really is a scam.


The power grab by the county with this water district smells like dirty water, which is what we’ll have after these cons get through with it.

Believe what you want to believe, but Big Gov and the establishment behind PRAGG/Pro is all about power and money – nothing more, nothing less.


That is way off the mark. This is the county responding to a locally generated request for local management. The only role the county takes is in facilitating the creation of a new locally managed district.

In fact I think it was Arnold who suggested that the county should manage it and Ray who said it was wrong to go that way.


You need to understand the process through critical thinking and educating yourself on the “rules of the game”. Only then will you see who is in control and cozying up to that control.

Wake up!


Theories and conjecture are not critical thinking


A water district managed by a one person one vote county government defeats the purpose of Mr. Sinton and those of his ilk in creating the district they propose. And if this B.S. about how only the lawyers win in litigation were true nobody would ever sue to protect their rights. California law specifies litigation to resolve water rights issues. The courts decide what is “reasonable and beneficial” use by an overlying landowner. And speaking of lying, you can disregard every one of these types of statements from these people. Listen instead to Ms Steinbeck, a family farmer who wants her future family generations to continue what they’re doing on their relative modest acreage in a sustainable, not hippy “sustainable”, but the sustainable manner mandated by existing law. She’s flat out right, from a legal as well as a public policy point of view. That is why they are freaking out and going after her guns blazing and trying to jam this thing through as fast as possible. We already have a well-established and well-funded government agency to manage this; the courts. Do you want to turn this power over to half a dozen or so plutocrats? (


Well Stienbeck is on record saying that she knows best and that is why she brought the lawsuit so it would go to adjudication (actually that is her latest line, it has changed over the months)

That is just plan arrogant and will cost the county big bucks. Remember this a couple years from know when you are blaming the county and the state about the multi million dollar cost and right grab that will be the result of that process.


“right grab” – classic! I want you to remember your statements next time your house is being robbed – don’t defend yourself because in doing so it will be a “right grab”.


You are way off the mark. The right grab is referencing the state adjudication that may well result from Stienbeck lawsuit that she has said she wants. That is the state taking the local land owners rights (rights grab).

Why she wants that to happen I don’t understand and don’t get why no one complains when she says she knows what’s best to all you other stakeholders be damned.


Inthemiddle who told you that is what adjudication is? What you are saying is totally inaccurate and whoever told you that is either uninformed or monetarily interested in the creation of a district. Can you please provide me with a link to an authority that supports what you are stating here? I am being completely sincere I really want to know.


Very succinctly written, Sinton. This should go a long way to curtail POWR’s PR campaign of domination through obfuscation.


Tongue-in-cheek, racket?


Well done, Muffy.