Sep 4, 2013 11:29 PM by John Reger

GQ: How does a one to one water offset work?

Last week the SLO County Board of Supervisors made a big decision on water use in the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. With a few exceptions, no new pumping will be allowed unless it's offset by stopping pumping elsewhere on a one to one ratio.

Tonight's Good Question: How does a one to one water offset work? Good Question.

If a grower wanted to plant 10 acres of new grapes he'd have to stop the irrigation of 10 acres of grapes someplace else in the Basin. He could do this either on his own property or by making a deal with another grower, perhaps for a cash payment.

But some crops take more water than others. For example, alfalfa is twice as water intensive as grapes. So if a farmer could plant 10 acres of new grapes and get rid some alfalfa, he'd only have to stop growing five acres of alfalfa elsewhere.

A developer could only build a house with a new well by offsetting the new home's water use. The developer would have to go other homes in the Basin and pay the owners to retrofit older toilets, showers and tanks with water-saving fixtures. The older homes would have to save as much water as the new house would use.

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