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Drink responsibly 

Last summer, after our well went dry, I had the privilege of being interviewed by New Times concerning our water crisis. I remain extremely grateful for your care for this plight many suffer. Last month, several more neighbors went dry. Last week, I daily witnessed the drilling of a replacement well (meaning a new well due to a dry one) across the road from our farm. Generally, a replacement well costs from $30,000 to $40,000. This is no minor plumbing job.

It is important to note that many of us bought our properties back when there was only one vineyard out on Highway 46 East. Vineyards were considered a westside industry due to a lower terrain/higher rainfall environ. In buying a property with a well, you have a well inspection done by professionals during escrow. Other buyers received the same report as we did: “Plenty of water for a lifetime. Will need to replace the pump somewhere down the road.” We bought our properties wisely.

Yesterday, my neighbor called: “Turned on the faucet; no water came. Checked the well. We’re going dry.” Let’s put a face to this new dry well: This family is the “salt-of-the-earth” kind. Excellent parents with amazing kids. I have known the kids for years. Good, beloved kids. This family will be one of the first at your doorstep with a caring countenance and practical help when you are hit with hardship. They are hardworking, frugal, have known hard seasons without work, and have found a way to scrape through while still helping others. And they will have a mighty big bill to pay for a replacement well. This is wrong. Just wrong.

Driving into town at 12:30, Aug. 30, we spied a large vineyard off of Highway  46 using overhead sprinklers on a bare field. I assume it is preparation for a new planting of vines. Driving back home at 1:45, we saw that the water was still going. My husband again went past at 5, and the sprinklers were still on, to the point of wasteful runoff onto the road.

For the record, I am not anti-vineyard. Though I don’t often have a glass, being of a farming mind, I appreciate the quality crafting of wine in our county. I know there are responsible vineyard owners here who have cut down water use and care about their neighbors. But there are enough who are foolishly draining us dry. I ask that we each wisely consider what vineyard we purchase our wines from. Money does talk loud and clear. Presently, I still see plenty of visitors parked at the irresponsible wineries. Time to change our ways.

-- Cindy Stevens - Paso Robles

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