This might be the Wine Region of the World, but even in a paradise like the Central Coast of California, there are tribulations that can threaten the livelihoods of its citizens.
It appears the water problems with Paso Robles are set to be managed. According to the Paso Robles Agricultural Alliance for Groundwater Solutions (PRAAGS), they’ve proposed a special water district be formed to manage the ground water basin. Elections would be required. Go here for more on the latest from PRAAGS.
As was mentioned in the last post on this subject, a combination of a semi-arid region, drought, an escalation in the population along with huge growth in farming (wineries), has left the ground water levels dangerously low. However, politics has tried to rear its ugly head and create a situation that could turn into a quagmire. The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors instituted a temporary ordinance (initially 45 days, but now two years) that required any pumping of groundwater for new crops had to be offset by an equal amount of watering of other crops turned off – a ruling called the 1-1 ratio.
Now is seems all sides are willing to come to the table to stabilize the water problems, but the sticking point may be simply: Who will be in charge?
Political body VS courts
That’s what Cindy Steinbeck of Protect Our Water Rights (POWR) has presented. Steinbeck representing a group of local farmers, sued the county to retain their water rights under California law – it’s more complicated than that – so that there can be an equitable and fair agreement for all concerned. In its simplest form, POWR wants the courts to decide how the administrating of this new water district works rather than a political agency. Go here for her latest on the management of a new district.
What does all this mean? As I’ve said many times, I’m not someone who can come up with the proper answers, but I do know that using our water issues as a political football is wrong.
I would suggest other regions with similar situations arising due to their growth in the wine business, be aware and attentive of this kind of problem – especially in California or other areas with a semi-arid climate and limited water.
Agreements can be made by all sides but making politics out of this issue needs to be kept at bay … I hope.
Daryle W. Hier