H-PASO ROBLES

Oct 2, 2013 1:49 AM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

SLO Co. Board of Supervisors still have Paso Robles water problem in their hands

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors could not come to a decision Tuesday night on how to fix the water issue in Paso Robles. The groundwater supply in the North County is depleting, and there's been heated debate from homeowners and winemakers. The board was voting on whether to extend an urgency ordinance that bans new irrigated crops from growing in the area. The 45-day urgency ordinance can be extended to two years, but it needed a unanimous vote from the board to pass. The board voted 3-1, with fifth district supervisor Debbie Arnold voting no. Arnold told KSBY News on Tuesday she was prepared to vote for an extension of the ordinance, but felt a huge part of it was undefined. The part she is referring to is the vested rights. The vested rights could give some winemakers and business owners in the area an exemption to the emergency ordinance. "Not only do we not know the economic impact this ordinance has had but, we don't know how many jobs are affected, how many parcels are affected, and then we really didn't know what kind of impact the ordinance would have at all, so I did reluctantly vote no," said Arnold. Second district supervisor Bruce Gibson said, "This problem has been on the horizon for the Paso Robles basin for many, many years. And it's finally now gotten so bad that I think it's fair to say the majority of folks over that basin are ready to take action." A lot of people went up to the podium for public comment. Most who spoke agreed the basin needs to be stabilized, it was really the definition of the vested rights that was unclear for many. The issue certainly is not over. The 45-day emergency ordinance expires next Friday, October 11. The board will meet next Tuesday, October 8 and they've also scheduled a special meeting at 9am on Oct. 11 to try to come to an agreement.

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