LA Times: Vineyards’ thirst pits growers against residents
LA Times weighs in on water basin debate
Story on Paso Robles groundwater basin reports on dry wells and swelling vineyards
In Paso Robles, vineyards’ thirst pits growers against residents
With little if any rainfall, the Paso Robles region must rely on an ancient aquifer for water. As the water table drops and wells go dry, residents seek to curb use by the area’s increasingly popular wineries.
While the world clamors for more Paso Robles wine, rural residents like Denise Smith yearn for something far more precious: local water. The retired teacher is one of dozens of homeowners in parched northern San Luis Obispo county whose wells have run dry.
Unable to afford a deeper well at a cost of $30,000, she trucks in water every few weeks. Meals are eaten on paper plates. Showers last 45 seconds. Toilets are seldom flushed. Where did the water go? Smith and other residents say it’s flowing freely into the area’s signature industry — wine.
“There’s too many doctors and lawyers moving in here and putting in their Chateau Cashflow,” said Zan Overturf, owner of the Treeman, a Paso Robles plant nursery who has seen local business dry up because of the groundwater shortage.
“I feel vilified. We’re trying to solve the problem,” said Jerry Reaugh, a grape grower leading an alliance to create a water district. “We’re the only people who showed up at the table that have positive solutions. The other solutions are ‘You’ve got to stop, you’ve got to stop, you’ve got to stop.'”
Grower Cindy Steinbeck hopes lawmakers ultimately arrive at a solution to the water basin problem. But she rankles at the perception that all winemakers use water wastefully.
Read the full story in the LA Times
Related Paso Robles groundwater basin stories
- Rural Paso Robles residents form water group
- Ag leaders form new water group
- Winemaker Hilary Graves offers her point of view
- Is an urgency ordinance putting the cart before the horse?
- Dana Merrill of Pomar Junction Winery calls for water district
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