Sue Luft and Jerry Reaugh are scrambling to justify their 18th century-style water district scheme, which would hand majority control of North County water to those with the most acreage (aka vineyard owners).
Arguing their plan is similar to an irrigation district, and those who pay the most for water should have the greatest say in how it is managed, is disingenuous (“Balance the basin,” May 1). Their reasoning assumes that basin management incurs the same costs as an irrigation district, where irrigators must pay collectively for imported water purchase, conveyance and storage (pipelines, tanks, pumps, ditches and maintenance).
But a groundwater management district doesn’t need to incur those costs. First, we don’t have to purchase our water; we already own it. Second, we don’t need to create and pay a government entity to pump, store, and deliver our water for us; we already have our own wells and tanks.
What we need is the vision and authority to manage our aquifer sustainably. We can do this by regulating its use—provided we elect directors who actually want to protect the basin rather than buying expensive imported water so vineyards can continue to ignore sustainable yield. Management doesn’t have to cost a lot of money; it can just require heavy users to use less.
But this will only happen if North County residents are able to elect directors who are committed to putting the interests of the public ahead of vineyard profits. And this will only happen with a one person, one vote governance structure. The Luft/Reaugh plan puts the largest landowners in charge of the basin.
Why should vineyard owners should be in charge of the groundwater basin?
-- Sarah Christie - California Coastal Commission legislative director