Oct 3, 2013 10:20 PM by Victoria Johnson

Water issue centered at the potential Paso Robles development project

The City of Paso Robles is considering annexing a 270-acre property for a large development project. That would mean more water would be needed at a time when the Paso Robles groundwater basin is already in high demand.

The state of California is in a two year drought. Water is in such demand some residents wells are running dry. The economy hasn't been much better. A new development project could promise the city income but has people questioning if there is enough water to go around.

"A new vineyard went in a few hundred feet from our well and our well went dry," said one Paso Robles resident.

Some people from Paso Robles are questioning if there is enough water for the Gateway Project. It is a development proposal to build three hotels, about 60,000 square feet of commercial space, up to 35 homes, and about 114 acres of vineyards. The lot is in San Luis Obispo County. Paso Robles is trying to annex the 270 acre lot off highway 101 and 46 west. The project could decrease traffic congestion and increase tax revenue.

"We told the developer, for his water needs, he has to purchase an additional allocation of Nacimiento water above that which the city has," said Ed Gallagher, Community Development Director for the City of Paso Robles.

It is not clear if the lot is tied to the Paso Robles groundwater basin or the Atascadero sub-basin. Before it can be annexed, an environmental impact and water assessment reports will be ordered and reviewed.

"We don't anticipate immitigable impacts. But we have to go through the process," said Gallagher.

In the meantime, residents are on the fence.

"It's scary. We do construction for a business here. There isn't a lot of construction. We work for some of the vineyards. It's a catch 22 for us," said a Paso Robles resident.

It will take a few months to prepare the reports. Residents will then be able to review the draft. If it can be annexed, the earliest the project can be approved is December 2014.

The City of Paso Robles says it's taking all the needed steps to make sure there is no impact on the water supply if the project is approved.



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