Majority say no to a water district tax

August 17, 2015

water moneyOPINION 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.


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15 Comments

  1. kayaknut says:

    Why is it governments only answers to any problems is more government or more taxes and fees. Why have they not figured out the often the reason for the problem in the first place is because the governments very own actions or inaction? I guess I hope someday they figure this out and reduce their size and costs, but I not sure how likely this is.

    (7) 11 Total Votes - 9 up - 2 down
  2. just4fun says:

    HWTED, I applaud your idealism, if naive. I do ask, however, if you have considered we will still have to pay for overhead of SGMA compliance, having a court meter our wells, having a watermaster restrict our pumping, plus paying attorneys and “experts” 10-15 years to get to that privilege?
    Adjudication is no free ride, and does come with limits on our pumping. The Ca. Constitution allows Ag that reasonable and beneficial pumping. It allows the government, or a court to restrict how much you pump. And that judge is an attorney with political ambitions who is not going to turn off the water to those thousands of people in the cities.

    (-5) 9 Total Votes - 2 up - 7 down
    • HWTED says:

      just4fun I appreciate your pessimism, if jaundiced and misdirected. I am not buying your argument. Adjudicated basins work more fair and are in better shape than those like say Fox Canyon, AB 2453’s model, which has been under “professional management” for years and years and STILL not in balance.

      All SGMA requires you to do now is form a GSA to write a GSP. Then it gives you 20 years -with additional extensions if needed, to actually reach sustainability. By the way just4fun an adjudicated basin is SGMA compliant from the start. You probably know that.

      When and if meters are used in an adjudicated basin, the meters are used by the big water extractors to measure historic extract rates to perfect their water rights, and by the court as one of several means to monitor extraction rates to ensure that the basin stays in balance and to calculate exactly how much water is available for the rights holders to safely extract if not in balance. They are not used to tax and monitor all well users as AB 2453 will. But I am betting you know that already.

      People who use less than 2 acre feet per year are considered de minimus users. Unlike the AB 2453 district which views them as a convenient tax resource, in an adjudicated basin the court generally doesn’t concern itself with their water use, it is statistically too small to bother with and has no significant impact on the basin anyway. In this basin just4fun that’s the majority of residents, the 90% of basin properties which use only 3% of the basin’s water. But I bet you know that too.

      As long as the basin is in balance there is no extraction restriction. You are absolutely right, extraction will be restricted by the court (not the local government) if the basin is not in balance. The 10% won’t like that. But at least they can appeal the watermaster’s decision. Where is the appeal process in AB 2453?

      Even so, restriction of extraction rates until sustainability is reached is all that can happen in an adjudicated basin. That is in the best interest of all residents in the basin. Compare this to the professionally managed “GSA” of the city of Paso Robles where the “management structure” is restricting the water use of the residents who have no individual water rights and get whatever the management deigns to allocate to the rabble, yet at the same time is allocating huge amounts of water for new commercial development.

      The 90% de minimus users know we are all going to pay one way or another for the sins of the 10%, the county and the cities, but getting them out of the decision making and control process is the only way to solve the problem they created. At this point I don’t see any viable alternative other than adjudication and settling individual overlying property water rights issues legally and fairly once and for all.

      (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
  3. just4fun says:

    In speaking about “local control” the author goes on to speak about changing 2453. How about addressing our water? Is a judge from the Bay Area controlling our water “local”? If the County is doing such a great job, why do we have an Urgency Ordinance? Why are we #6 on the State’s high priority basin list? Business as usual doesn’t seem to be cutting it, plus we have to comply with SGMA now.

    (-5) 9 Total Votes - 2 up - 7 down
    • HWTED says:

      Yeah, putting the basin under “local”control of the 10% of big landowners (the PRAAGS’ ilk) who want this district and who pump 90% of the basin’s water and caused the problem in the first place is going to work out really well for the remaining 90% of landowners who use about 3% of the water after the cities -who exempted themselves from the district, take their share of “surplus” water. That would be business as usual.

      No thanks, I’ll take my chances with that Judge in the Bay Area and California Constitution Law versus the kangaroo court of AB 2453 which is curiously silent on any procedure or right of redress.

      Adjudication which exempts no one no matter how rich and powerful, is looking a whole lot cheaper than even the overhead cost of the district as we learn more of the details of this “local” controlled district designed by and rammed through by SLO county government staffers. Once they start adding projects to bring in more “supplemental water” for the 10% and the cities, who knows what the taxes will be like.

      On the bright side just4fun, if we are really nice, maybe that judge will give the Santa Margarita Lake water back to the North County where it belongs.

      (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
  4. Slowerfaster says:

    Blowhards that want to continue to suck the basin dry.

    (-3) 17 Total Votes - 7 up - 10 down
  5. kayaknut says:

    The problem is election are not won and lost because of the number of votes, but because of money. Money buys elections and politicians. Only on the very very local level do votes sometimes count and that is only because the money people don’t feel a local election is worth their time and energy, they have bigger fish to fry, or is it buy?

    (5) 11 Total Votes - 8 up - 3 down
  6. whatsinaname says:

    Don’t ever trust those unscientific polls.

    The real accurate, scientific way to find out opinions is to estimate how many thumbs up (not to be mistaken by middle fingers up) and honking horns are witnessed by an unbiased bystander, and compare those to the 7 people that stopped and voiced an opposing opinion. Yes….thats sarcasm.

    I have no opinion in this fight and don’t live up there in that oven, but this opinion article is just too funny to pass up.

    (0) 18 Total Votes - 9 up - 9 down
  7. Jorge Estrada says:

    A BIG THANKS to all who are working to inform the public and squelching Gov’s attempt to create more Gov. We already have the basics to meet the SGMA requirement and the public does not want more taxation to fund duplicity. This is America fighting to protect what is right,,,, here at home.

    (14) 36 Total Votes - 25 up - 11 down
  8. pigsrule says:

    Thank God the word is getting out and that we have an informed electorate here in the North County. Big powerful entities want the water district and the citizens of this county need to fight these carpetbaggers and their cronies.

    (25) 35 Total Votes - 30 up - 5 down
    • backseat_driver says:

      Who do you think is financing PR-Win? Small local property owners? LOL. It is funded by wineries who want to continue to suck the basin dry while at the same time getting the sheeple to believe it is in their best interest. I don’t live in PR, so good luck with that.

      (4) 20 Total Votes - 12 up - 8 down
      • debbieisout says:

        backseat_diver, tell me who really is financing PR-WIN?

        (4) 10 Total Votes - 7 up - 3 down
      • lostinspace says:

        To those who like to get there exercise jumping to conclusions, if backward_driver were to bother checking the Form 460 on file, you would see that, to date, the very limited PR-WIN financing has been provided by 14 small landowners. Your contribution would be greatly appreciated.

        (7) 11 Total Votes - 9 up - 2 down
        • SLOBIRD says:

          And of course you trust this. Someone probably gave them the money. Go Cody, and thanks for all your hardwork and follow through!

          (-3) 7 Total Votes - 2 up - 5 down

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