Setting the record straight: We have no plans to export Paso water

February 18, 2014 

One would think that something as expensive as litigation would be founded on sound principles, rather than false accusations against your neighbors and fellow landowners. Neither Paso Robles Agricultural Alliance for Groundwater Solutions (PRAAGS) nor Pro Water Equity has ever suggested or supported the export of our groundwater to Kern County or anywhere else. That is just a fiction created by Ms. Cindy Steinbeck to give her something to fight. PRAAGS is not looking for a fight, we are looking for long term solutions to what we believe is a declining water supply.

Ms. Steinbeck has somehow completely twisted my presentation to the SLO Cattlemen's meeting to make it the exact opposite of what I said. The following is a direct quote from a supporting slide from that presentation that everyone (including Ms. Steinbeck) could see:

"It has never been suggested, nor is it logical, to sell local water to other regions when it is so desperately needed here. However, to ease the recently expressed public concern, language has been added to the petition: The District shall not export water from the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin."

After that, what I did say is that if surplus water might be available in wet years from the state, the district might buy it and store it in Kern County so that we could bring it into the county in a dry year when the State Water Project pipeline had excess capacity. Isn't that the exact opposite of Ms. Steinbeck's accusation?

The management of water banks and the marketing of water in other places has nothing to do with our focus on stopping our basin from becoming overdrafted. Ms. Steinbeck's litigation is contentiousness without solutions and will do nothing to help solve our local problems. Her "proud belligerency" will do nothing to help us, and in my experience as a water law attorney, will drag on for years in the courts. At the end of that, there will be no more water for us, but the litigation will generate nice revenues for her lawyers.

Her discussion of the right to surplus water is also just a distraction from real issues and solutions. There is no surplus water here, but if a district were created and were to bring us supplemental water, it would be for the sole purpose of stabilizing, and we hope, to restore our groundwater to historical levels.

The Board of Supervisors can surely see through the misinformation being generated by Protect Our Water Rights and should support reasonable people working hard for real solutions.


Steve Sinton's family has been ranching in San Luis Obispo County since 1875. He practiced water law for 20 years before returning full time to the family business of cattle ranching and growing wine grapes.

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