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Governor signs bill required for the formation of a proposed North County water district 

It was a long road to the governor’s desk in Sacramento. Now, with the quick whirl of a pen, a bill that paves the way for a special water district in northern San Luis Obispo County is coming home.

On Sept. 16, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 2453, a bill carried local by state Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian and a necessary piece of legislation that allows for a proposed hybrid-structured water district that would have a managerial role over the ailing Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. Two stakeholders pitched it: the vintner group Paso Robles Agricultural Alliance for Groundwater Solutions, and the rural residential group PRO Water Equity.

Over the summer, the bill was amended several times as SLO County Board of Supervisor support wavered while locals expressed concerns about the voting schemes of the district’s formation. It appears the district now has support from a voting majority of supervisors, something Achadjian insisted on as the sponsor.

While the proposed nine-member district structure has a legislative green light, there’s still a long, local process ahead. A formal application for the district’s formation must be submitted to the SLO County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), either in the form of a resolution by the supervisors or from a private group after gathering the necessary amount of signatures from people in the proposed district. The application would include a proposed district boundary map, cost breakdowns, what services the district intends to provide, and other information. Once a proposal is submitted to LAFCO, it would go through an extensive public process before LAFCO decides to approve or deny it. As part of that process, the district would also require a formation vote, requiring support from at least 50 percent from titleholders to form.

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

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