Gibson attempts to turn Paso basin over to the state
March 16, 2016
Editor’s Note: A video of San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Bruce Gibson asking to give the state control of the Paso Robles basin follows the article.
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
One of the most outspoken advocates of a failed North County water district plan, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Bruce Gibson, said Tuesday he believes control of the Paso Robles basin should be relinquished to the state.
The supervisor spent the last two years advocating for “local control” of the basin.
Gibson also criticized voters who recently turned down the district proposal by a nearly 8-2 margin, saying, “The North County vote has put this county in an untenable position.” Gibson said the county cannot afford to manage the basin, despite the expenditure of more than $1 million by the county to nurse the plan into existence and then to an election.
Gibson’s suggestion, made during the supervisors’ regular meeting’s public comment period, earned him stern rebukes from two of his fellow supervisors.
The county has five water basins which the state now require have additional management, two of which are in significantly worse shape than the Paso Robles basin, Supervisor Debbie Arnold said. Arnold wants the county to retain local control of all five basins.
“We would never shirk our responsibilities to do this work (manage the basin through the county’s Flood Control District) on behalf of the citizens, to simply throw it all to the state,” said Supervisor Debbie Arnold.
Supervisor Lynn Compton said she thought it “unbelievable that the two supervisors who pushed this district proposal claiming the need for local control in the past now want the state to come in. I find that unbelievable.”
Gibson and fellow supervisor Adam Hill, who also tirelessly promoted the district’s formation, floated a motion to direct county staff to prepare an analysis of the five water basins in San Luis Obispo County with emphasis on the Paso Robles basin with a goal of handing management of the Paso Robles basin to the state.
That motion was defeated 3-2, with Frank Mecham joining Arnold and Compton.
Mecham said he plans to travel to Sacramento next month and hopes to learn what a state takeover of a water basin would entail.
“It is our responsibility to take a look at all basins in the county,” he said. “I need to know more about what the state would do and when it would do it. I would not want to support (Gibson’s) motion, but I need more time to explore with the state.”