Great News on the Groundwater Front!

Governor Signs Historic Groundwater Legislation

California is at long last leaving the Wild West behind when it comes to managing groundwater. We applaud Governor Brown’s signing today of four groundwater related bills. The Pavley-Dickinson Package is made up of three critical and far-reaching pieces of legislation that will positively change the face of groundwater management in California.

A key element of these bills is the understanding that management of groundwater should be done at the local level. These measures give local agencies the necessary powers, tools, and incentives to achieve local groundwater sustainability, while protecting property rights. The state encourages local control and will offer guidance and technical support, being a backstop when and if local agencies are unsuccessful in carrying out their groundwater management responsibilities. Objectives and benchmarks are outlined along with a timetable for executing a groundwater sustainability plan.

  • 2017: Local groundwater management agencies must be appointed or created
  • 2020: Groundwater sustainability plan must be adopted for all overdrafted basins
  • 2022: High and medium priority basins not currently in overdraft must have sustainability plans
  • 2040: Achievement of sustainability for all high and medium priority groundwater basins

We are gratified that the fourth groundwater related bill signed by Governor Brown today was AB 2453. This permits a local water district to be formed for the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin with a “hybrid” board of directors, allowing local, flexible representation that gives everyone a voice while allowing no single person or group to control the board.

The question is no longer “Are we going to have a management structure for the basin?” but “Who will be the face of the management structure for the basin?” Who better than locally-elected people who live and work here, have a direct and vested interest in management of our common resource, and have the focus and accountability needed?

It’s time to rally behind creating a locally-managed water district with a hybrid board of directors for the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. We have to begin the work of managing our precious, common resource. Our lives, property values, livelihoods, and ability to enjoy this beautiful place in which we live depend on it.

AB 2453 Passes Legislature!

PRO Water Equity is pleased that AB 2453 passed the Assembly concurrence vote by 46 to 4. With this vote, AB 2453 has successfully passed both chambers of the state legislature and is on its way to the Governor’s desk for signature.

PRO Water Equity would like to thank Assembly Member Katcho Achadjian for authoring AB 2453 and for his perseverance while ushering it through the legislative process. We would also like to thank Senator Bill Monning for his support of AB 2453 in the Senate, and those in the community who have continued to stand behind this effort.

The hybrid board for a proposed Paso Robles Basin Water District is the heart of AB 2453. It was well received in Sacramento, with legislators recognizing that its unique structure gives everyone a voice, but prevents control of the board by any individual or group. We believe that AB 2453 represents true compromise and shows what can be accomplished when members of a local community work together.

Moving Toward Sustainability
We are encouraged by the passage of AB 2453 and hope that this is the beginning of establishing management of the Basin so that it is sustainable into the future.

AB 2453 Passes Full Senate

PRO Water Equity is pleased to tell you that AB 2453 passed the full Senate by a vote of 29-3. Because it has been amended since the Assembly voted, it will go back to the full Assembly for concurrence before the end of August. If it passes the concurrence vote, Governor Brown will have the month of September to sign it into law or veto it.

The hybrid voting structure that is the heart of this legislation, has been well received by the Legislature and Governor’s office. We are hopeful that management of the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin will move forward so that the Basin will be sustainable into the future.

The Latest on AB 2453

PRO Water Equity’s Position on AB 2453
August 5, 2014

AB 2453–legislation which would allow a hybrid board if a water district is created for the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin–has been significantly amended. The latest revisions have resulted in a bill which PRO Water Equity can again support. Creation of a water district will require broad-based consensus of the landowners in the basin, as well as the support of the SLO County Board of Supervisors.

Comprehensive groundwater management legislation is working its way through Sacramento via SB 1168 and AB 1739. This legislation will require adoption of sustainable groundwater management plans for medium and high priority groundwater basins, which includes the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. Local groundwater management agencies must be formed to develop and carry out these plans.If a water district is not formed, the County will be required to undertake these tasks on their own for the unincorporated areas of the Basin.In the absence of local action, the State Water Resources Control Board will be authorized to manage local water resources and water resource decisions.

PRO Water Equity supports the efforts in Sacramento to develop comprehensive groundwater management. We firmly believe that the Basin needs to be sustainably managed, and that a locally-controlled water district with the hybrid governance structure proposed in AB 2453 is the best solution for our community. This governance structure allows all residents and landholders a voice and prevents any group or individual from controlling the board of directors.

Assembly Member Achadjian asks Board of Supervisors to Weigh In
On August 5, 2014 Assembly Member Katcho Achadjian sent the Supervisors the final version of AB 2453. He requested individual responses as to if they wished the legislation to continue forward. PRO Water Equity sent the Board of Supervisors a letter urging them to support AB 2453.

Paso Robles City Council Renews Support for AB 2453
On August 5, 2013, the Paso Robles City Council unanimously renewed its support of
AB 2453.

Who to Contact for Basin Questions or Dry Wells

If you have concerns or questions about:
- AB 2453
- Management of the Basin
- Sustainability of the Basin
- Agricultural expansion

Please contact Supervisors Arnold and Mecham. As the two County Supervisors whose districts encompass the Basin, they need to ensure that the Basin is managed properly and remains sustainable into the future.

Debbie Arnold, darnold@co.slo.ca.us, 805-781-4339
Frank Mecham, fmecham@co.slo.ca.us, 805-781-4491

If you have a dry well:
Please speak at the Basin Advisory Committee during public comment.

Also contact Supervisors Arnold and Mecham and copy all Supervisors, so they are reminded how critical the situation is.
Debbie Arnold, darnold@co.slo.ca.us, 805-781-4339
Frank Mecham, fmecham@co.slo.ca.us, 805-781-4491
Adam Hill, ahill@co.slo.ca.us
Bruce Gibson, bgibson@co.slo.ca.us
Caren Ray, cray@co.slo.ca.us

PRO Water Equity Withdraws Support for AB 2453

Read the SLO Tribune article here.

AB 2453 has been well received in Sacramento, passing the Assembly and two Senate committees, and scheduled for a vote by the full Senate next month. However, the amended bill is very different from the original bill, which was based on a compromise between PRO Water Equity and the Paso Robles Agricultural Alliance for Groundwater Solutions. While some of the amendments are very good, some are not appropriate for our situation, and others were not well thought through.

On June 17, 2014, the Board of Supervisors conditioned support of several proposed amendments with the addition of their own amendments. In taking that step, the Board effectively took management of the language of AB 2453, and therefore, the bill. As a result of that decision, we now look to the County Board of Supervisors to follow through in creating a management structure for the Basin.

PRO Water Equity is no longer able to support or sponsor AB 2453. We do, however, support the efforts in Sacramento to develop comprehensive groundwater management. We have submitted letters to Assembly Member Katcho Achadjian and Chair of the Board of Supervisors, Bruce Gibson, stating such.

PRO Water Equity and PRAAGS worked out a compromise in the form of the hybrid voting structure for a water district—governance that allows all residents and landholders a voice and prevents any group or individual from controlling the board of directors.

PRO Water Equity still firmly believes that the Basin needs to be balanced, and that a locally-controlled water district with the proposed hybrid governance structure is the best solution for our community. Going forward, we will look to our Board of Supervisors to keep the needs of the rural residents and small landowners in mind while figuring out how to share the water that belongs to all of us.

We want to thank all of those who have supported us in our quest to ensure the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin is managed and balanced so that it is sustainable into the future. We thank Senator Bill Monning for his support in the Senate. A very special thanks goes to Assembly Member Katcho Achadjian and his staff for all of their hard work on AB 2453. It is now up to the County and the community to come together to find solutions for our declining groundwater basin.

Latest news on Paso Robles Basin Water District

Latest update in the SLO Tribune.

AB 2453 passed the Assembly on May 28th with 50 “yes” votes and 11 “no” votes. The legislation is now in the Senate, awaiting committee assignment.

After meetings with various Senate staff, it became clear that AB 2453 would need minor amendments in order to address the concerns of the various legislators now considering the bill.

Amendments were requested to provide for the three at-large registered voter directors to be non-landowner district residents. Additional amendments were requested which are primarily administrative in nature.

We support these amendments, as they follow our original intent: to ensure that everyone has a seat at the table and no individual or group can control the board of directors.