We know water is the issue, we need solutions

October 31, 2016
John Mack

John Mack


I am writing in response to Caren Ray’s recent campaign mailer regarding “water is the issue!” I agree that water is the most important issue facing the residents of Arroyo Grande. I am disappointed the existing City Council has not taken appropriate action which would recognize the severity of our current water crisis.

Ms. Ray’s mailer states she supports gray water conversion, that she will work to require water neutral projects, and that she will fight for a moratorium that protects all property rights. All three of these statements are filled with assumptions and are written in a way which supports continued development and leaving current water customers with the burden. The burden is both paying for and acquiring new water sources.

Let’s start with gray water. This is not something new. It has been done in 40s, 50s, 60s, through the current decade. The problem with gray water today is it will negatively impact our sewer system and sewer plant by not allowing the solids to reach its destination. This is already being compromised by the low-flush toilets and restrictors currently in use.

An overall increase in grey water systems, sound like a good idea, but there are consequences. Grey water is a tool to support new development when there is no savings to our water resources. What is a better solution is to have rain water capturing devices, which can be installed and used for landscaping and non-potable use.

The solution isn’t just finding a new water source. We need to use our current water supply more effectively and efficiently. We need to complete the water projects and work on the aquifer recharging with the water we have recycled.

Creating a path towards desalination will lead to the taxpayers paying for EIRS, special studies, consultants, and design which will ultimately be proven to be unaffordable. The best solution still, is to capture the water being dumped into the ocean and to recycle our current water.

Additionally, the cash for grass program didn’t work. What we should do is reward the people who have used the least amount of water. This reward program, would help re-establish water rates/usage based on actual occupant load rather than the arbitrary assumptions made by the city when calculating baseline usage from 2014 monthly water trends.

Ms. Ray also states that future development should be water neutral. It isn’t good enough to require a project to be water neutral, which infers you can trade agricultural uses for new development. What we need to do is require new development to purchase and bring new water sources into our city and keep existing water resources and any potential water savings for our current residents and business owners. In other words, an existing homeowner can add their additional bathroom or granny unit, but needs to retrofit that project and show improvements are truly water neutral.

It is not acceptable for new developments to come to Arroyo Grande, and retrofit existing businesses and residences for their own water use and profitability. The new development needs to bring in their own water.  Again, this language presents a loophole for additional and further new development.

Finally, Ms. Ray’s mailer states she will “fight for a moratorium that protects all property rights.” Synonyms of the word moratorium include:  ban, prohibition, suspension, postponement, stay, stoppage, halt, and freeze.

Given this definition it is misleading to say that there are development property rights when you have a moratorium in place, even if the moratorium is short lived. You cannot have it both ways. There is either a moratorium or there isn’t. A moratorium could be tiered—like Pismo Beach instituted.

What is important is to establish critical thresholds of our existing water resources and identify when we have hit the threshold of completely restricting new permits being issued. Overall these thresholds need to align with the time frame of securing new water resources or rites.

So, if it is going to take eight years to complete the water recycling projects, then we need to have the wherewithal to limit or cut the issuance of permits based on this time frame.

If you have questions related to this opinion piece or have other concerns please connect with me by emailing me at mack4agcc@yahoo.com. I look forward to answering your questions.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

While surfing the net tonite reading about wastewater reclamation I found the site of a local company that builds prepackaged plants which are capable of producing title 24 water.

If I can find this local company why cant the City and the sewer district? Have they met with these folks and got a quote for a plant? It says they finance it too.


title 22, sorry.

I put a John Mack for AG City Council sign in front of my house based on the word of a mutual acquaintance that he would support Mayor Jim Hill in efforts like this. I am pleased to see that decision was correct. He states quite well the case for an immediate moratorium on development prior to new water sources.

Ms. Ray’s mailer states she will “fight for a moratorium that protects all property rights.”

I totally agree with what Mr. Mack states. It is very easy for candidates to state they are in favor of a moratorium, but the real question is WHEN and HOW? When last brought to the city council for vote, only Mr. Hill and Mr. Brown voted in favor of an immediate moratorium. The other 3, including candidate Kristen Barneich, voted no because they wanted to protect those who “already had projects in the pipeline”. They wished to postpone the decision…you guessed it, until after the election, in fact to January!

With the obvious support by a developer who has a variety of projects in Arroyo Grande, what confidence do citizens of AG have that the decision will not be swayed by this developers campaign support?

John Mack and LeAnn Akins should be given the opportunity to prove what they can do. Neither is backed by developers, they are both running to help make Arroyo Grande Great Again!

Some good points made. Nothing will really ever happen until the politics are removed and a action plan is made. The main problem that most people don’t talk about is storage. Because of over zealous environmentalist it would take a miracle to get any type of water storage project passed. You can buy and sell or credit all of the water rights you want but if there is no water they are useless. We need to get new thinkers on board who are not selling their souls. We have places like Paso Robles where there is a water moratorium, water police, dead lawns fines levied for water abuse. So what do they do? Approve a 270+ housing project and several hotels. There is something wrong there. I certainly don’t have all of the answers but things do need to change.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

I support Mr. John Mack!

Arroyo Grande’s residents deserve common-sense leadership, and I believe that John Mack will help contribute to that effort. With all due respect, we DO NOT need the political doublespeak of candidates like Caren Ray, Kristien Barneich, or Richard Waller.

The water moratorium ought to be passed NOW, and we have already seen the vacillation of Barneich and Barbara Harmon. City residents already hooked to the water delivery system should not be asked to do without water just so a few power-hungry politicians can cozy up to the developer crowd. Reject the political quid-pro-quo that Caren Ray, Kristian Barneich and Richard Waller are committing with developers.

Re-elect Mayor Jim Hill.

Elect John Mack.

Reject Kristian Barneich

Reject Caren Ray

Reject cronyism and developer corruption

Reject Adam Hill Clones

Just saying,


I couldn’t agree more!

The best solution:

Build a water pipeline from the Columbia river mouth, undersea to California.

It’s an idea that has been talked about before.

Weird our current State and Federal government doesn’t appear to be talking about any water-pipeline solutions, isn’t it?

A water pipeline is a lot more environmentally friendly than an oil pipeline- and the best part is , cost would be saved, and security gained by having it run under the pacific ocean.

Water pipeline from Columbia River seems like a logical next step? The Columbia is just emptying into the Pacific Ocean.

We need water security. The entire USA does – this is food security because much of the nation’s food is grown in California. Why is this not being given a higher priority?

Makes you wonder.

Mr Mack is a thinker. It is very apparent that he puts thought into issues before engaging his mouth or saying something that is politically expedient. He would be a great addition and compliment to Mayor Hill who has the same qualities.

I wish you well Mr. Mack.


Our family does not disagree with the opinions expressed inclusive of this writing.

Thinking out of the box…

Since everyone, including our family, is concerned about the water issues facing us and the cost it will incur to improve our conditions, should we ignore other sources of City revenue not collected by the City, that could help the City insure both the safety of building and revenue collection.

Let’s support Mayor Hill to finally cleanup a matter in CDD he identified in his State of the City address and audit the performance of CDD and permitting procedures and equal treatment for everyone.

Maybe the Mayor can review our situation up close to understand the impact it is creating and revenue that is lost while becoming a detriment in so many ways. Home values matter.

Financially the City is in the red, as we all learned months ago, during a thorough Financial Presentation at City Hall. We have to be efficient with the money coming in more than ever.

This could be one way of improving the City’s bottom line. We believe we were meant to be creative in helping get back to the black.

It seems recently during this nationwide election that it is our civic duty to pay taxes to support our troops and every facet we are requested to do as good citizens of this country.

I have a neighbor that told me recently that maybe he doesn’t want to pay taxes for his home improvements. How does that help the City or the Country?

On that note, We wonder how many citizens know about the home building additions / improvements etc. that are un-permitted in the Arroyo Grande?

These identified construction projects include no City building applications, they are not submitted to the Building Department, so they are non-permitted, there no inspection performed, there is no assurance of safety for the public and there is no code enforcement to correct it, even when CDD is notified (while leaving no paper trail of any kind of what was built and sold to the next person as is at a detriment to their neighbor/s)

We think we should help Mayor Hill and Council clean up this internal flaw in CDD quickly, before we run out of horses leaving the barn. before we run out of barns.

Why should you care? It would bring revenue to the City when we need it mo$t and it would contribute to the $hortfall. Why correct this problem? Becau$e it has been going on for year$ there and everyone is making up the difference for a City Position that I$ underperforming. We might add, and paid very well at that.

The County Assessor has to adjust taxes, afterward for unreported construction / improvements because he wasn’t included as there was no permit to generate the necessary paperwork sent to the Assessor’s Office.

Maybe we need new leadership in CDD who will value the dollar as good citizen$ do?

Why are we concerned? Because we live next to a un-permitted entertainment deck 18 X 27 X 13, on a raised grade, in easement, beyond the setback, in the front yard at that.

This unpermitted construction, was sold as a flat landscape project without any height dimensions and other hidden agendas. The neighbors even tried to hide it behind shrubs and trees that were planted to cover-up this mess which now blocks our view and drainage, due to the removal of a vitally necessary interceptor ditch on the property line 175 feet long.

It happened to us. It can happen to you. We are continuing to fight this injustice and will not rest until it is removed per City Code and Homeowners governing documents. We need to put this horse back in the barn.


We have been in this drought for 5 years, who has been on the council the whole time and done nothing, Jim Guthrie and Tim Brown.

Jim Hill, Barbara Harmon and Kristen Barniech have been on 2 years now,and when did we start taking action against the drought, 2 years ago? Who brought the issue to the forefront Mr. Hill.

If it were not for Mr. Hill who knows when the city would have started to take action. Mr. Mack I like your thoughts on this drought situation. Best of luck next week, we need someone like you.

I agree with Mr. Mack completely. With no water, there is no greywater. With no water there are no water neutral projects. A moratorium should be in place already. Likely it should have been in place a year ago.