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County to explore supplemental water for Paso basin 

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has given Public Works the go ahead to hire two consultants to study supplemental water options to replenish the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin.

The study is the most recent step in ongoing efforts to address growing demand and diminishing supply for groundwater from the sprawling aquifer that lies beneath thousands of rural residences and vineyards. In an attempt to keep up with projected demand, stakeholders have been looking to supplemental sources for water, namely hooking into the Nacimiento Water Project, pumping more water from the Salinas River, and buying state water. In addition, the county is exploring the future potential for recycled water.

County staff initially proposed more than $1.5 million to hire Carollo Engineers to prepare a Supplemental Water Supply Options Feasibility Study with help from John Hollenbeck, a local consultant who was the Nacimiento Water Project pipeline project manager. At their Jan. 28 meeting, supervisors approved approximately $750,000 for the front-end part of the study, excluding the Salinas River portion in lieu of another governmental study on the source.

The feasibility study comes amid controversy over a recent proposal from a new alliance between an agriculturalist group and a residential group seeking to form a California Water District. Though many details are vague and yet to be determined, if the district is eventually approved, the body will likely oversee funding and delivery of supplemental water to the basin, causing concerns among some overliers about who will control the water and how water rights will be impacted.

-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay

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