SLO County supervisors need to act on Paso water basin

On Tuesday, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has the opportunity to begin the process that could ultimately lead to the formation of a management district for the depleted Paso Robles groundwater basin.

We strongly urge the board to take advantage of that by approving and forwarding an application to the Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, which reviews the creation of new government agencies.

If LAFCO gives its blessing, property owners within the boundaries of the proposed district will then vote on whether to form an agency that would be responsible for developing and implementing a sustainability plan for the Paso basin.

At this point, managing the basin is not an option — it’s a requirement under new state groundwater legislation. If no local agency is designated to do the job, the state can step in and take over.

That would likely cost basin property owners much, much more, and it would take control out of the hands of the residents who should have a say in how the basin is managed — those who depend on the water for the lives and their livelihoods.

We strongly believe that those who live in the basin and/or own property there should have local control, and the best way to do that is by electing their own local board of directors.

We aren’t alone in supporting that. The county Farm Bureau Board of Directors — which is a staunch guardian of private property rights — voted in support of forming a management district.

“Board members voting to support the formation of adistrict cite the importance of local control by the people who are most affected by the Paso Robles Basin groundwater issue, rather than by those who live or represent entities outside the basin boundaries; they support the opportunity to have more direct input in critical decision making; and support the idea that groundwater management will be more effective and equitable when the district directors answer only to the landowners in the basin,” anews release from the Farm Bureau said.

We agree completely.

That said, let’s take this one step at a time. The first step is to get an application in front of LAFCO.

We look to the Board of Supervisors to take a leadership role in this critical issue by submitting to LAFCO an application for the formation of aPaso Robles groundwater basin management district.