With our Board of Supervisors considering extending the urgency ordinance on the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, agriculturalists and rural landowners are scrambling to find a longterm solution to decreasing groundwater levels. Yet the stakeholders working to find that solution — Pro Water Equity and Paso Robles Agricultural Alliance for Groundwater Solutions — disagree on what type of groundwater management authority should be created.
As these groups approach the Board to endorse their particular approach, it is too early for the Board to be trapped into endorsing one group’s position over another. A decision to create clear winners at the expense of clear losers is the perfect equation for an eventual lose-lose solution. The board might want to consider retaining an independent mediator to meet with these groups, find common ground and craft a consensus around a winwin solution that all can get behind. To do anything less could result in no solution at all.
The board should consider extending the ordinance for six months to see what rains this winter bring and whether common ground can be found within that timeframe. If a framework for a solution cannot be found by then, it’s highly unlikely to be resolved within two years.