Supervisors agree on restricting exportation of groundwater
April 15, 2015
The 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.