Local News

Apr 2, 2010 9:10 PM by Courtney Meznarich

Water rate issues go before Paso Robles council again, this time with new support

Before a preliminary vote next week, the Paso Robles City Council will allow citizens to once again speak their minds on the water rate issues facing the city.

For years the group 'Concerned Citizens for Paso Robles,' has tried to stop the city from imposing a water-rate hike. The hike would help pay for the Nacimiento Water Pipeline project.

Now, a new group is fighting back.

Water4Paso is working to build support from people who say they are willing to help pay.

Larry Lynch, co-chair of Water4Paso, says "We need these rates to go up right now, to get us through the hot summers."

According to the new group, in the newest water-rate adjustment proposal, the monthly $18 surcharge would disappear from customer's bills. Their new rate would depend on how much water the customer actually uses. "It's an equitable way to pay for it," says Lynch. "Everybody pays for what they use, if they want to conserve water and use less, they'll pay less."

But 'Concerned Citizens for Paso Robles' says not so fast.
In addition to the rate adjustment, it has other issues.

"This project is a means of promoting growth here within the city," says CCPR spokesperson John Borst. "That was also said or certainly implied in the environmental impact report."

Borst says the water from the pipeline project is for new development, not current citizens. "We believe, Concerned Citizens for Paso Robles, that new development should be paying 100 percent."

But Lynch says that issue needs to be brushed aside to focus on the task at hand. "Development is an issue that we need to deal with on anther basis. We need the water for the residents here right now." Lynch says if it weren't for conservation efforts over the summer months, the city would be facing a water crisis. "Water is going to be golden in the years to come, particularly in Paso where we need it."

Borst disagrees. He says if Paso Robles needs water, it's because of new development. The amount of water that would come from the pipeline project is way more than needed. "Current citizens do not need 4,000 acre feet of water, so why should we be paying for it?"

CCPR also believes imposing a fee is illegal, and that the appropriate way to pay for the project if the city is intent on having its residents pay, is through a tax. That way, residents could say what they really want by going to the ballot box. CCPR has filed a lawsuit against the city.

Water4Paso hopes the community will support the city council at Tuesday's meeting. CCPR says a protest form is available on their website, www.paso218.org. The group says that if a majority protests, the city can't pass the latest proposal.

The meeting is Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Paso Robles City Hall.

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