Katcho Achadjian submits bill to create North County water district

Proposal to state Legislature serves as a placeholder until a specific bill is ready

dsneed@thetribunenews.comFebruary 27, 2014 

State Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian has introduced a bill to the state Legislature that is a first step in creating a water management district for the Paso Robles groundwater basin.

Called AB 2453, the bill is what is known as a nonspecific spot bill submitted to meet the Legislature’s Feb. 21 deadline for introducing new legislation during the current session. AB 2453 acts as a placeholder until a bill with more specific language can be introduced, said Ross Buckley, a spokesman for Achadjian.

Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo, has until March 21 to introduce a more specific bill. The final bill will allow for the formation of a water management district with a modified nine-person board of directors that will be a combination of at-large members elected directly by residents and those representing property owners of various acreages.

The language of the final bill is being crafted in the state’s Office of Legislative Counsel, Buckley said.

The spot bill contains language about water management decisions best being made at a local or regional level. It also says the bill will make only technical, nonsubstantive changes to the state water code.

The bill would allow a water management district to be formed to deal with the crisis in the Paso Robles groundwater basin, which has seen significant drops in aquifer levels in recent years, resulting in wells going dry.

Two water groups in the North County are preparing to submit a petition to the San Luis Obispo County Local Agency Formation Commission to begin the process of forming the district, a process which is expected to take about a year. The water groups as well as Achadjian have said it is important to retain local control of the basin’s water.

“This is great news,” PRO Water Equity, one of the groups backing a water district posted on its website after Achadjian announced he will sponsor a bill. “One step closer to a governance structure for our basin.”

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