Supervisors agree on restricting exportation of groundwater

April 15, 2015

waterThe San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of an ordinance that it will make it difficult to export groundwater out of a local basin or into another county. [Tribune]

Anyone wishing to export groundwater within or outside of the county must now obtain a permit to do so. County staff will only issue permits if they find that transporting the water will not harm local supplies.

Staff will weigh factors, such as whether exporting groundwater would cause aquifer levels to drop, result in seawater intrusion or disrupt the flow of neighboring wells. Permits will only be valid for one year. Project applicants must then go through a renewal process.

The supervisors are usually divided over water policy, and most recent votes on groundwater regulations have been 3-2 decisions. Supervisor Debbie Arnold, who opposed an effort to extend a development ban in a North County basin, praised the new policy as a groundwater protection ordinance.

Representatives of various citizen groups that have been active in debates on North County water policy each supported the groundwater export regulation. A South County board member opposed the new policy, though.

Nipomo CSD board member Ed Eby cautioned the supervisors that the new regulation could cause Santa Barbara County to adopt a similar policy restricting groundwater exports. The Nipomo district is currently building a pipeline that will bring water from Santa Maria to the South County community.

At least 20 counties in California have already adopted ordinances regulating groundwater exports.

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Looks like the county is dumping on Nipomo again. NCSD may have their own bridge (pipe) to nowhere if Santa Maria reciprocates. Oh well – Jerry Brown is going to immediately throttle that pipe anyway.

Hey doesn’t anyone want to talk about agriculture sucking 80% of the water? When the wells go dry just look at the strawberries looking green and red, and while you’re looking that, do ya notice all the subsidized labor we’re paying for so our agribusinesses and landowners don’t miss a profit. When are you going to give us that riverside weed store? Mahalo!

What 80% are you talking about, 50% is used for, CA’s environmental purposes including leaving it in the rivers,lakes,and so on and also what the endangered list get,go read the article in your favorite yesterdays paper.

You are correct. It works like this: of total available water, about 40% is ag use, and 50% is “environmental”

The 80% figure comes from available water left AFTER environmental uses.

By far the most water-thirsty crop is alfalfa (19% of ag use), second is forage. Vines represent about 6% of total ag use in CA.

I wonder if there is any way we can reclaim ownership of the Lake Naciemiento water. Monterey county has rights to 85% of the water in the lake eventhough the lake is wholly located within SLO county. After spending 200 million on a pipeline that will yield only 17K acre feet a year (when there is water in the lake) you would think we would have regained ownership of the water first. People, the answer is desalination…we need to decouple the water source from the natural elements. This drought is likely here to stay in one form or another. Perhaps not as draconian as the last few years but surely it will take decades to recover without proper management and a water source not dependent upon rainfall

If you want deal you must disempower the Coastal Commission. Prohibit them from having a say in any coastal deal project. Without their interference Morro Bay built a deal plant in about a year under emergency conditions.

The engineering is here and easy for a deal plant. It is the politics that bogs it down. Ask Cambria or Monterey.

That is “coastal deal project.”

Spell check won’t allow DESAL(ination). It keeps making it “deal”

How about disband the coastal commission? Is there any evidence that the board does anything other than create red tape? Take a look at their website, the “accomplishments” for 2014 include nothing that would have not happened without the agency. In fact, those accomplishments are nothing more than the successful navigation of the red tape they themselves created!

I believe the CC took 9 years to approve the desal plant in Carlsbad; do we have that long?

Of course, the other elephant in the room is exponential growth: Paso Robles is charging ahead with expansion plans, where will the water come from? No one dares challenge the exponential growth paradigm, our debt-based economy depends on it for survival.

Ya, just ask Cambria. We have a so called desal facility that has not produced a drop of water. However, it HAS killed quite a lot (in a Marine Sanctuary) of fish, birds, even a horse that ran into a fence because the noise was so horrendous and had to be put down. People 6 miles up San Simeon creek say the sound is like a jet engine where they live. We have had pollution from chlorine and nitrates. The toxic vapors are drifting into San Simeon camp ground (value $35,000,000.00) and the toxic evaporation pool continues to lure drought stricken animals that then die.

The project itself was very much an inside deal. No third party project review, no actual vote, the former CCSD head is a lawer for the firm representing both the manufacturer and installer and the law firm makes it very clear in their mission statement that they are real good at defeating environmental laws for your developement.project.

The loan that our CCSD signed (all but one member) has a three day default clause that would allow the financiers (a hedge fund in Vegas) to seize our infrastructure (can you say “privatized water?) This in a district that has failing infrastructure and already high water costs.

Ya, “here and easy.” But you forgot to mention astronomically expensive. Just ask Cambria. Or perhaps you could ask the people in Australia who found the cost of desal so prohibitively expensive that they closed four of their plants.

There is not chance for SLO County to get more of the Naci water unless SLO County can put a stop to farming in the Salinas Valley too. The natural flow of the Naci / Salinas water keep the Salinas Valley recharged thence preventing salt water intrusion. This can never change without disrupting the domestic water supplies in the greater Salinas Valley, housing and aggriculture. The fact that the Lake is in SLO County is simply an engineering opportunity for this regulatory storage dam. The Naci River is primarily generated in Montery County thence meets the ocean in Montery County. SLO is very lucky, if ever, to get 15%.

“thence preventing salt water intrusion”

If you are talking about the area between the city of Salinas and the ocean, there is already salt water intrusion (since 1944) clear up to the Salinas city limits. That whole farmland underground is saturated with seawater. Those farms irrigate with reclaimed sewer water from a giant sewer plant that serves Monterey, Salinas, etc.

For the Monterey seawater intrusion maps go to:

I would expect that the County of San Luis Obispo WILL NOW weigh in on the annual renewal process of the construction permit the City of San Luis Obispo has for the diversion of the Salinas River. As I read it, there is a water problem in North County which means that there is no water availability to be exported for development on the other side of the Santa Lucia mountain range. Remember, The City SLO only has a renewable permit until they finish the applied for scope of the project. It is not until the project is done that they are granted a license. Even with that the State requires an annual statement of use and a check $ to keep their license active.

Just think of the permit extensions and still no completion after 70 years. In concept, this reminds me of the unfinished hotels in Mexico with rebar poking in the air causing everyone ask, why do they do this?

Too little, too late. Like closing the barn door after the cows got out. No heroes here.

ATTN: Stewart Resnick

So if my neighbor is out of water, I am no longer able to offer him a hose?

Only if he lives in another county.

Read the article again, AgAg. “Anyone wishing to export groundwater within or outside of the county must now obtain a permit to do so.” So Racket is correct…you will not be able to offer your neighbor within SLO County any water without a permit.

Just Google the BOS website, the ordinance is there. Here is the export definition pasted for you: “H. “Export” means the extraction of groundwater underlying the county for use outside the boundaries of the groundwater basin from which the groundwater is derived, or for use outside of the county.” So, yes, I guess technically if you lived on the EDGE of the basin you couldn’t extend a hose to a neighbor outside the basin, but that would not likely be prosecuted under the civil penalties of the act. But, read on:

It makes interesting reading. There is an inspection clause that after written notice and without warrant or court action, they can enter ANY premises for the purpose of inspection. If you are entering my place without a warrant, er….best to NOT finish that sentence. I’m a peaceful guy.

There is a penalty clause that appears to take effect five days after written notice of violation (if one continues) and it’s five grand per DAY, per WELL. Typical light-handed government civil punishment.

There is also a general exemption for 1/2 acre foot of water, which I was concerned about hauling in the ranch water truck. Good part of the act; handles the small stuff like water deliveries or industrial/construction water. Good move.


And so begins the REAL local water war — first, interpreting the words in this law, and then conscripting them. Winner is the person who has the water in a decade or so, when it’s all over.