Supervisors pass on Paso water district plans to LAFCO
April 22, 2015
The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors is asking a local board to approve the creation of a government agency tasked with managing groundwater use in North County’s Paso Robles basin. [Tribune]
On a 3-2 vote, the supervisors chose to send an application to the Local Agency Formation Commission in support of the proposed Paso Robles Basin Water District. If the district is created, the agency may assess a $2.10-per-acre fee on property owners in order to cover a projected $950,000 annual operating budget.
Landowners in the basin will have final say as to whether the proposed district is created. If LAFCO approves plans to form the water management agency, landowners will vote on the matter.
Supervisors Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton cast the two dissenting votes Tuesday. Both Arnold and Compton expressed concern that landowners who do not support a water management district would be forced into one.
Arnold also said she is concerned with the broad and still undetermined powers the district would have.
A bill signed into law last year by Governor Jerry Brown requires government management of the Paso Robles basin. If a local district does not come into existence, the state can assume control over regulating groundwater use in the basin.
Supervisor Frank Mecham, who made the motion in support of the proposed water district, said the basin will be managed whether people like it or not. It is better to establish local control of the basin, Mecham said.
Supervisor Adam Hill said local control is the bedrock on conservatism. Hill and Supervisor Bruce Gibson, the lead proponent of the water district, joined Mecham in voting in favor of creating the agency.
Plans for the water district call for a nine-member board to make decisions on groundwater use in the basin. The board would consist of six seats held by landowners and three seats that can be filled by anyone who is registered to vote in the district.
If crated, the district is expected to encompass 7,293 parcels spread over 774 square miles.
The board of supervisors will now work with LAFCO to hold public hearings on plans for the water district.