County should manage Paso Robles groundwater basin
October 10, 2014
OPINION By SUE HARVEY
There’s lots of talk out there but you may be wondering what’s up with the future of groundwater management in the Paso Robles water basin. On October 14 the supervisors will be deciding if they want to apply to the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to form a water district based on Assemblyman Achadjian’s special legislation AB 2453.
Paso Robles Ag Alliance for Groundwater Legislation (PRAAGS) and Pro Water Equity (PRO We) are the original sponsors of the legislation but now they are lobbying to have the supervisors form the separate nine director special district. According to the staff report for the Oct. 14 hearing, the estimated cost for the County to apply to LAFCO for an AB 2453 district is $350,000.
There is no guarantee that a district will be formed after the county invests in the LAFCO process. The formation and funding of the district will be decided by a vote of landowners.
There is going to be some form of groundwater management over the Paso Robles basin and in the whole state. Groundwater management will be based on recently passed state legislation collectively known as the Groundwater Sustainability Act. Statewide, basins will be managed locally by groundwater sustainability agencies (GSA).
The Paso basin can be managed by the supervisors as the Groundwater Sustainability Agency. The alternative is for the supervisors to form a new AB 2453 district and this additional layer of government could then act as the GSA.
Recently I co-authored a letter with the local chapter of the Sierra Club to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors recommending that the county become the groundwater sustainability agency. This is the preferable alternative to having the supervisors invest resources and considerable money to apply to LAFCO for a new water district.
The supervisors should declare the county to be the groundwater sustainability agency and take on the challenges and opportunities of sustainably managing the Paso basin.
Susan Harvey has lived in the North County area since 1975. She is the president of North County Watch.