North County water crisis: 12 locals share their thoughts

elopez@thetribunenews.comAugust 16, 2013 

Dryland farming and ranching have given way to vineyards like this area off Linne Road just outside Paso Robles.


In the wake of more bad news this week about the North County's sinking water table, The Tribune talked with locals about who is to blame and what should be done. Eight of 12 people The Tribune spoke with about the groundwater crisis said wineries are to blame, and everyone agreed that authorities should enforce some sort of regulation to conserve water.

Craig Kelso, 69 of Paso Robles, said ‘crisis’ is the perfect way to describe what is going on.

“There are two completely different wine industries: local and corporate,” Kelso said referring to who he thinks takes more water. “Corporate wineries look for profit, local wineries have heart and loyalty to the community.”

Julia Garcia, 31, lives in rural North County surrounded by vineyards, she said. The property she rents already had to dig the well deeper, she said.

“There should be more restrictions on water use,” Garcia said. “Those grapes constantly have water dripping on them.”

Zach Harvey, 23 of Paso Robles, said the situation is the result of the basin’s mismanagement by everyone and everyone should play a part in the solution.

“My parents have a pretty big lawn and they stopped watering it,” he said.

Janelle Wesner, 49, from Templeton said people need to be more aware.

“You’re going to have to decide whether you want a pretty lawn or take a shower,” Wesner said.

Tanya Railsback, 43, lives in Paso Robles with her children and said quality of life is affected when there’s a shortage of water.

“For example, the fountain in the park, I miss having that,” Railsback said.

Her solution, like many others, was conservation, she said. Even in the movie theater, there are solutions.

“I was just in there and I thought, ‘I wonder if there is a flow restriction in restrooms’,” Railsback said.

Every little bit helps, said Steve Leider, 55.

“We’re worried about oil, but water is running out,” Leider said.

Leider lives in Santa Barbara but is a real estate broker for developments in Paso Robles, like the Walmart shopping center. He is shocked by the crisis, he said.

“Stop development, stop everything, stop and think about it,” Leider said.

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