Protect Our Water Rights files second amended complaint
Anti-water district group adds plaintiffs, acreage to lawsuit
Concerns over sweeping changes to private property rights has brought tremendous support from the rural community for the Protect Our Water Rights (POWR) quiet title action, the group says in a press release today. The group filed an amended complaint July 31st in Superior Court of Santa Clara County. The POWR group now stands at 250 landowner members and 12,800 acres, according to the statement.
Quiet title is a legal procedure which allows landowners large and small to confirm their groundwater rights protected by California law against claims by local agencies which seek to take these protected groundwater rights. The local entities identified as defendants in the case are making claims which impair or take away overlying groundwater rights. As a result, the Paso Robles groundwater basin is now in what is called “Adjudication,” according to the group. The adjudication process will have two important outcomes, they say. “First, there will be a scientific quantification of the amount of water that can be safely pumped from our basin. Second, parties will need to prove that they have a right and priority under California law to pump groundwater assuring that the basin will not be over-pumped. The adjudication process is the best solution for our basin because it will result in a court supervised sustainable water future for our community.”
Cindy Steinbeck, a founding member of POWR, is a fifth generation family farmer and owner of Steinbeck Vineyards in Paso Robles. She states, “Our group is seeking quiet title as the means through which to protect our rights under California Law and to protect our basin from over-pumping. Our rights are under assault. If we cannot use the water then our land has no value. Both our rural lifestyle and our community are at risk.”
Protect Our Water Rights is a group of large and small landowners, concerned about water rights and protecting our groundwater basin. POWR believes that standing strong to protect our rights will serve to protect our precious groundwater. POWR formed very quickly after the Urgency Ordinance was passed by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors and continues to grow because of the threat of state regulation as well as the possibility of a political body such as a California Water District being used to control and export groundwater for financial gain at the expense of overlying groundwater rights and the long term sustainability of the groundwater basin. The group believes that court determination and enforcement of groundwater rights and protection of the groundwater basin is preferable to political decisions which can be affected by money and influence.