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Winemaker: Where I stand on the Paso Robles groundwater basin controversy 

Opinion

Winemaker Hilary Graves offers her point of view

I request withdrawal of consideration of the proposed Urgency Ordinance as it would undermine my ability to make a living and support my family through farming

Hilary Graves

Creston farmer and winemaker Hilary Graves.

I was up late last night, writing and thinking and thinking some more. The result is this letter to the County Board of Supervisors who will meet today to discuss the current state of the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin and how we should proceed in managing this precious natural resource.

Sadly, my stance will make some enemies, although I sincerely hope that we can work together to find a solution that allows me to continue farming for profit and allows rural homeowners to maintain their homes in the country.

August 5, 2013

Dear Supervisors Arnold, Gibson, Hill, and Mecham:

I am writing to voice my opinion on the declining water levels in the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. As a fourth generation farmer, I am proud to be able to act as a steward of the land that I farm with my family and I want to be part of the solution to the water problems we are experiencing. I understand that we are currently in a drought and changes are necessary to preserve and protect the basin.

I have been growing wine grapes, making wine, and raising grass fed beef, pastured poultry, and Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs in Creston since I graduated from college and joined the world of work in 1999. I make significant financial, social, and educational contributions to my community. In addition, my work as a farmer provides the residents of our county with the rural living experience that they desire by maintaining agriculture land for farming and supports the livelihood of many local business owners whose stores I frequent. The money that I spend to support our local economy was earned through irrigated agriculture.

I have an overlying right to use ground water beneficially on my property, and I take that right very seriously. I am and have been conserving water in my farming operation since it’s inception by installing soil moisture monitors, erosion control measures, and judicious application of water at appropriate times of the growing season. Water is not something that I take for granted as I rely on it to ripen my crops and to successfully raise food for a large population of local residents.

As our Board of Supervisors, the decisions you make must focus on insuring the core quality of life for both agriculture and rural residents, but the proposed Urgency Ordinance before you today creates unintended consequences to all in the Basin who have made financial commitments and long-­term business and lifestyle decisions: large and small farmers, ranchers, vineyards, and rural homeowners.

I request withdrawal of consideration of the proposed Urgency Ordinance as it would undermine my ability to make a living and support my family through farming.

We should focus instead on investigating responsible options to manage and gather stakeholder input for collaborative groundwater solutions that will meet everyone’s needs with long-­term, sustainable, effective and equitable options.

Sincerely,

Hilary Graves
Mighty Nimble, LLC
PO Box 159
Creston CA 93432
hilary@mightynimble.com
(805)674-1686

Reprinted from the Creston Nugget



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