Supervisors vote to restrict water exportation
The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance, 5-0, to regulate the exportation of groundwater from the county. In February the board passed an ordinance that would offset agricultural water conservation. Some of the supervisors then expressed concern that water could be exported out of the county, which is especially concerning since the state is entering the fourth year of drought.
The ordinance, approved April 14, would apply to all 22 Bulletin 118 basins in San Luis Obispo County, which include high and medium priority groundwater basins, County Public Works Deputy Director Mark Hutchison said.
“The basic [premise] is that it requires a permit to export water out of the basin or across the county lines for the basins that do cross the line to Santa Barbara or Monterey counties,” Hutchison said, adding that the permit process will be quite extensive. The public hearing will be done by the public works department with notice going out to surrounding properties and other affected parties. “The findings for approval are fairly extensive.”
In order to be approved, the applicant must show the export will not result in:
- Adverse affects to long-term ability for storage or transmission of groundwater
- Chronic lowering of groundwater levels
- Injury of the reasonable and beneficial uses of overlying groundwater users; including well interference or a cone of depression beyond applicant’s land
- Groundwater quality degradation
- Injury to a water replenishment or recharge story, restoration purveyance project
- Land subsidence or seawater intrusion
- Depletion of interconnected surface water
- Detriment to the environment
- Adverse effects to the health, safety and welfare of property owners
In additional to the hearing, the applicant for a permit to export water from the county would also have to get an environmental impact report. The total cost for the permit, public works staff said, could range from $20,000 to more than $100,000.
Hutchison said changes were incorporated from input given by the supervisors at the March 17 meeting. Those changes include defining the local water agency, adding an exemption for contaminated water, removing an exemption for county and flood control district, adding no well interference/cone of depression to findings, allowing permits to be renewed and removing the sunset date.