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Group protests formation of groundwater basin district 

Map of Paso Robles Groundwater Basin.

A map of the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. About 60-percent of the basin is in San Luis Obispo County and 40-percent in Monterey County.

Group gathers signatures of 600 locals opposed to new district

Paso Robles Water Integrity Network, or PR-WIN, a group of landowners and concerned citizens residing over the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, is mounting a formal protest to the proposed AB 2453 water district formation. Teams of volunteers have staged protest signing events at major intersections in local communities to gather signatures on petition letters. Over 600 protests have been signed by landowners, according to the group.

Allen Duckworth has been at every signing event over the past two weeks. He says, “We’ve talked to hundreds of people and hundreds of cars have passed with thumbs up and honking in support of our ‘No new tax, no water district’ signs. A total of seven people have stopped to tell us they were in favor of the water district.”

A group advocating for the district, Citizens Advocating For Local Management (CALM), claims that most support local water district in a survey it released.

Cody Ferguson, manager of the political action committee for PR-WIN states, “CALM only received 231 of 2,000 surveys back and only 161 participants (70%) were in favor of the water district, yet CALM presumes in their press release that the ‘majority of residents support water district.” Ferguson claims that the survey was a push poll to a controlled distribution list which directed people toward the answer CALM wanted. “It was a public relations ploy, not a scientific survey done with integrity,” he stated.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act or SGMA requires that citizens become good stewards of the groundwater basin. PR-WIN said that they believe that the basin must be managed, but said that, “creating another bloated layer of government burdened with a million dollar annual cost just to cover administrative costs imposed by the county is an unacceptable solution. If passed the district will have the ability to tax landowners who will receive no benefit and strip the constitutional right of landowners to make their own decisions regarding reasonable use their own well water.”

“The Paso Robles Groundwater Basin is the only large groundwater basin in the county not in overdraft or facing serious water quality issues. The requirements of SGMA can be completely met by the already existing AB 3030 Groundwater Management District at far less cost and no loss of groundwater rights” said Ferguson.

PR-WIN said that it believes in, “educating residents about the laws regarding their water rights and encouraging an open and honest discussion on issues related to water banking, paper water, sustainability and new taxes.”

The group said that it believes that, personal decisions made by landowners about their own groundwater use is the “only true local control.”

“Informed citizens will not make irreversible decisions that can hurt them and the Paso Robles Groundwater basin in so many ways like a bloated government bureaucracy can and will,” said Ferguson.

For information and a protest form go to www.PR-WIN.org.

 

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The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at info@pasoroblesdailynews.com.