Majority say no to a water district tax
August 17, 2015
OPINION By CODY FERGUSON
The Paso Robles Water Integrity Network or PR-WIN, a large group of landowners and concerned citizens residing over the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, is mounting a formal protest to the proposed formation of an AB 2453 water district. PR-WIN teams have staged several protest letter signing events at major intersections in the local basin communities to gather signatures on official form protest letters. Over 600 letters have been signed by property owners and water well dwellers to date.
Team member Allen Duckworth has been at every signing event over the past four weeks. He says, “We have talked to hundreds of people and hundreds of cars have passed by with thumbs up or honking horns in support of our ‘NO NEW TAX – NO WATER DISTRICT’ signs. A total of seven people have stopped to tell us they were in favor of the water district.”
Compare this actual experience of collecting signed letters to the unsubstantiated anonymous survey claims of the Citizens Advocating for Local Management or CALM that “most residents support a local water district.”
The truth is that CALM only received 231 surveys returned out of 2000 surveys issued. Only 161 participants or 70 percent of the surveys returned were in favor of the water district. Yet CALM presumes in their press releases that the majority of all residents support a local water district. That false statement flies in the face of reality and intentionally misleads the public. The CALM survey was actually a ‘push’ poll to a very controlled distribution list.
The misleading language used in the poll questions, sent only to the people CALM chose in advance, directed the participants toward the answers that CALM wanted. It is a commonly used public relations ploy, not a scientific survey done with honesty and integrity.
All of the organizations currently advocating for the proposed formation of an AB 2453 water district are calling a new district the answer for ‘local control’ of our water.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. AB 2453 is State Law that applies to the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin only. Any changes to the formation documents of the new water district, if formed, must be changed by the State Legislature, not a local agency. Additionally, AB 2453 must be adopted by the voters exactly as it was passed by the legislature. All or nothing will be the vote, so it is important to know what is in AB 2453 before you vote away your water rights.
As for the often heard argument, ”if we form an AB 2453 water district the SLO Board of Supervisors will no longer control our water.” This is false. There are two sections of AB 2453 that specifically, in no uncertain terms, retain all the same powers and authorities currently employed by the SLO Board of Supervisors or the County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. Nothing changes except the addition of another expensive bureaucracy. We will simply have two masters to tax, regulate and control our water.
California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act or SGMA was passed in 2014. It requires that all Californians become better stewards of our groundwater.
PR-WIN agrees that the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin should be sustainably managed, however, not with a second expensive layer of bloated government with the authority to double tax, meter water wells and regulate landowners who will receive absolutely no return benefit from a second water district.
Remember, all San Luis Obispo County landowner’s are already members of the County’s AB 3030 Water Conservation District and currently pay property taxes to that district. The formation of an AB 2453 water district will not stop those current county taxes. All of the state requirements under SGMA can easily and efficiently be met by the county’s existing AB 3030 Water Conservation District in a timely fashion and at far less cost to the taxpayers than an AB 2453 water district.
Contrary to popular rumor, the state absolutely does not seek to manage or steal our water. The state will only intervene locally, under SGMA, on a temporary basis, if the local agency will not or cannot properly manage a groundwater basin. The Paso Robles Groundwater Basin is currently adequately managed by the SLO Board of Supervisors and the County Water Conservation District well within the SGMA guidelines.
PR-WIN believes in educating residents about the complex laws regarding their constitutional water rights. We believe in encouraging an open and honest discussion on issues related to water for sale, water banking, paper water, double taxation and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. We are dedicated to the defeat of the ill-advised AB 2453 water district. Please join us!
You may access additional information and a protest letter form at www.PR-WIN.org
Cody Ferguson is a principal officer of the PR-WIN Political Action Committee. The Paso Robles Water Integrity Network PR-WIN is dedicated to exposing the danger of the AB 2453 water district to the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin and educating the public how to protect their groundwater rights. We are supported exclusively by independent donations.