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Apr 2, 2010 12:38 PM by Bethany Tucker

New group formed in support of Paso Robles water rate hikes

Some northern San Luis Obispo County residents and business leaders have formed a coalition in support of the Paso Robles City Council's recently approved water rates. The group, called Water4Paso describes itself as an independent coalition dedicated to maintaining and conserving an affordable water supply in Paso Robles.

Water rates have been a touchy issue in Paso Robles since voters rejected Measure A in the last elections. That measure would have raised rates almost 250 percent over four years, to help pay for the city's portion of the Nacimiento Pipeline Project. But, this February, the Paso Robles City Council managed to approve a water fee hike. Rather than paying a fixed rate plus $1.50 per unit of water used, under the new plan residents will pay only $2.50 per unit used. But, that rate will eventually rise to $4.40 per unit over the next four years.

Water4Paso says it believes the newly approved water rates are the way to go. "The new consumption-based water rates are the affordable way to pay for the Nacimiento water charges", said Co-Chair Larry Lynch in a press release. "Many residents who are on fixed incomes will see a reduced water bill for the same amount of water use under the new rate structure."

But, this subject always comes with controversy. The group Concerned Citizens for Paso Robles has been urging local residents to protest the recently approved water rate hike by downloading a petition from its website. Members of that group say the rate hikes are not fair, and that the city should find another way to fund the Nacimiento Pipeline Project.

A public hearing will be held on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at city hall.

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