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Public input needed for future of Paso Robles Groundwater Basin

Posted at 6:09 PM, Sep 25, 2018

The Paso Robles Groundwater Basin is critically over-drafted and county leaders continue to work on a plan to fix that.

So far, water experts and district leaders have drafted 5 out of 13 chapters of the state-mandated Groundwater Sustainability Plan. They need to submit the full plan to the state by Jan. 31, 2020.

In the meantime, they’re looking for public comment.

The first five drafts cover introductions, basic basin mapping, hydrology, and public engagement. The next step for the collaborative committee that’s creating the plan is figuring out what a healthy basin looks like.

That committee is composed of representatives from San Luis Obispo County, Shandon-San Juan Water District, Heritage Ranch CSD, San Miguel CSD, and the City of Paso Robles. They are known as the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA).

GSA, along with a private water consultant, write the fine print, which is then posted for a 45-day public comment period.

The committee has until the summer of 2019 to submit a draft of all 13 chapters to the public.

Courtney Howard, the Water Resources Division Manager for San Luis Obispo County, said the planning process is going smoothly but challenges are still ahead.

“Moving forward in a timely fashion in order to comply with the regulatory deadline and at the same time get adequate and robust input and provide enough time for that input so it can be integrated into the plan sections,” Howard said.

Chapters 1-4 and 11 are currently available online. The public can share input on these chapters until mid-October.

Howard added that they are in need of more public input.

The county is also providing an interactive map here so residents can see if their home or business is within the basin boundaries.

The drafting process is not affected by the ongoing “quiet title trial.”

That lawsuit, filed by North County property owners, calls into question who has access to the groundwater, whether it be private landowners or public water suppliers.

Hearings regarding that trial are supposed to wrap up in Santa Clara by the end of September.

The next collaborative committee public workshop will be held October 4 in Paso Robles at Kermit King Elementary.