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Local agencies approve governance structure for Paso groundwater basin 

An interagency agreement that sets a governance model for how the over-pumped Paso Robles Groundwater Basin will be managed has now been signed by every participating party except the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, which will vote on it Aug. 22.

The Memorandum of Agreement stipulates how at least five North County agencies will work together to comply with the state's Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which requires local water pumpers to write a sustainability plan by Jan. 31, 2020, and attain sustainability by 2040.

click to enlarge WATER SOLUTIONS On Aug. 22, the SLO County Board of Supervisors will vote on an agreement between five local agencies to collectively manage the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin under the state Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. - MAP COURTESY OF SLO COUNTY
  • Map Courtesy Of SLO County
  • WATER SOLUTIONS On Aug. 22, the SLO County Board of Supervisors will vote on an agreement between five local agencies to collectively manage the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin under the state Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

On Aug. 15, the Paso Robles City Council executed the agreement following affirmative votes by the Shandon-San Juan Water District, San Miguel CSD, and Heritage Ranch CSD.

Under the agreement, each involved agency would send one representative to serve on the Paso Basin Cooperative Committee. First District Supervisor John Peschong is slated to be appointed as the county's representative.

"The committee would conduct activities related to [sustainability plan] development, development of annual budgets and funding, establishment of a stakeholder participation plan, and development of sustainability metrics and actions," a county staff report read.

One hopeful party in the negotiations, the fledging Estrella-El Pomar-Creston (EPC) Water District, is still in the administrative process of becoming a district. After the EPC Water District holds elections in November, the Board of Supervisors must vote to allow it into the basin agreement—which isn't guaranteed since basin members' votes on the committee are weighted based on the size of their jurisdiction.

Without the EPC Water District, SLO County has a 61 percent vote, the Shandon-San Juan Water District has 20 percent, the city of Paso has 15 percent, and the San Miguel CSD and Heritage Ranch CSD have three and one percent, respectively.

With the EPC Water District in the agreement, the county's voting power would be reduced to 32 percent.

Dana Merrill, the EPC Water District formation chair and owner of Mesa Vineyard Management, said that the district would provide funding to the basin management that would otherwise be on the shoulders of the countywide taxpayers.

"It's pretty plain that they ought to [allow the EPC Water District into the agreement]," Merrill said. "It's going to save everybody a lot of trouble and money."

Public Works Director Wade Horton said that after the Board of Supervisors decides on the agreement, the committee meetings would likely commence within 30 days. Δ


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