Growing up in Paso Robles during the 1950s and 1960s, I remember a small town with water issues.
On the hills, just to the west of the city, were dryfarmed almond orchards. The scant winter rains were sufficient to bring spring blossoms and a fall harvest. There were a few local vineyards in the wetter areas west of Paso Robles. East of town, out on Highway 46, it was dry. Farmers planted crops that didn’t need to be irrigated, winter crops that survived solely on the rainfall. Summer scenery east of town was hot and dusty.
All that started changing. In the early 1980s, visits to Paso Robles revealed a greener landscape on the east side of town. I was told that a huge, nonreplenishing aquifer, estimated to hold enough water for 100 years, had been discovered and that the newly planted vineyards were tapping into that resource. I assume that the information was shared by the local news media and was common knowledge at the time.
Over the past 30 years, technology has allowed us to profit greatly from this found water, but at what cost to the future? If only we’d used that knowledge and planned.