The Sept. 3 issue of The Bee (Page B-5) carried an article regarding residents of Paso Robles complaining of expanding grape acreage straining their water supply. Seems as though the winemakers are drawing from an ancient aquifer that had been supplying enough water to support annual demand. The water table has declined 70 feet or more since 1997 according to the article. Does this sound familiar? Substitute almond orchards and Stanislaus County. Same problem.
What solutions are proposed? Drill deeper wells. Sure, until they dry up again. To their credit, San Luis Obispo County supervisors recently voted to cap the current level of pumping from the aquifer to buy time to search for a solution. One solution proposed by wine growers around Paso Robles is to form a water district and acquire supplemental water from the State Water Project. This also sounds very familiar to those of us living in Northern California. Seems as though anyone with potential access to the California Aqueduct thinks water from Northern California is an inexhaustible solution to their water needs. Guess what? It isnt and will never be!
When will our legislators realize controls and regulations must be developed to regulate groundwater pumping from aquifers that took hundreds of thousands if not millions of years to form? They cant continue to depend on water from Northern California to bail them out every time anyone needs more water.
Come on, guys. This is not a local or even a regional problem. It is a statewide problem that is begging to be addressed and resolved on a statewide level.