San Luis Obispo County supervisors Tuesday voted to waive county fees for drilling a new domestic well to replace an old one that has gone dry in the Paso Robles groundwater basin and other areas of the county with depleted underground aquifers.
They also directed Public Works staff to come back in 45 days with recommendations for forming a water management district of some kind that would equitably allocate water within the basin to avoid lawsuits.
“Unless people can come together this is going to end up in an adjudicated process,” said Supervisor Frank Mecham.
These actions are only half of what the board will do Tuesday to deal with dwindling water levels in the groundwater basin. Later in the afternoon, supervisors will tackle the more controversial and complicated job of adopting emergency land-use rules that could limit new pumping from the basin.
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Seventy-five people have requested to comment on the emergency ordinance, and the hearing is expected to go into the evening.
The supervisors will be considering whether to impose emergency measures that would prohibit new development or the planting of new irrigated crops unless its water use is offset by a 2-to-1 ratio and other restrictions as well as other steps.