Water & Drought

Worried about North County water? Here’s how to speak your mind on groundwater levels

When the rate of pumping is greater than the rate of infiltration, the water table drops and shallower wells run dry.
When the rate of pumping is greater than the rate of infiltration, the water table drops and shallower wells run dry. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Water management agencies in North County are making big decisions about the future of the Paso Robles Basin — including setting future targets for groundwater levels.

That matters because the agencies will eventually propose restrictions to cut back demand — or projects to increase supply to meet those targets in the aim of sustainability, said Carolyn Berg with San Luis Obispo County Public Works Department.

When the rate of pumping is greater than the rate of infiltration, the water table drops and shallower wells run dry. This bureaucratic process will determine what is an acceptable level for the water table.

Two upcoming public workshops will provide community members with the opportunity to hear about the state of the water basin and give input. Those who can’t attend can fill out comment forms available at www.pasogcp.com.

Those workshops will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 4 at Kermit King Elementary School, 700 Schoolhouse Circle in Paso Robles, and 6 p.m. Oct. 8 at Creston Elementary School, 5105 O’Donovan Road in Creston.

The process is a result of state mandates required under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Because the state determined that the Paso Robles Area Subbasin is in critical condition of overdraft, water agencies have until the year 2020 to come up with a plan to better manage water use and supply to reach sustainability within 20 years. Basins that are not considered to be in critical overdraft have until 2022 to come up with a plan.

“In our minds, this groundwater sustainability plan is really driven by the community and the basin users,” Berg said. “The public engagement and ultimate acceptance is critical to its success and Paso’s ability to really obtain sustainability.”

paso basin.JPG
Groundwater sustainability agencies within the Paso Robles Area Subbasin are required by state law to come up with a plan to sustainably manage groundwater by 2020. San Luis Obispo County

Basin users include city residents, farmers, people who use personal wells and others.

Final decisions will ultimately be made by the Paso Basin Cooperative Committee, which includes representatives from San Luis Obispo County, the city of Paso Robles, San Miguel Community Services District, Heritage Ranch Community Services District and the Shandon-San Juan Groundwater Sustainability Agency.

The Estrella-El Pomar-Creston Water District is not part of the committee because the county Board of Supervisors declined to relinquish control as the groundwater sustainability agency to the group of private landowners.

The county serves as the representative for water users who are not within the jurisdiction of the other agencies involved.

To receive updates from the county about groundwater basin management throughout the county, add your name to an e-mail list at slocountywater.org/sgma.

The next Paso Basin Coopertive Committee meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 17 at the city of Paso Robles’ Council Chambers at 1000 Spring St.

Monica Vaughan: 805-781-7930; @MonicaLVaughan

A camera stationed at Lake Nacimiento shows how much water the lake lost over a six-month period in 2018 from March to September.

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