Talk of water in SLO County deluged the Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 23, with supervisors considering a controversial appointment to a water advisory committee, and future water availability in Los Osos, Nipomo, and Paso Robles.
Los Osos real estate broker Jeff Edwards applied for a seat on the county's Water Resources Advisory Committee (WRAC) as a representative of environmentalists, raising a flood of protests. Edwards made headlines recently with his plans to cut down hundreds of eucalyptus trees at the edge of Monta"a de Oro State Park, near a new home he's building.
"Mr. Edwards has absolutely no environmental credentials whatsoever," said Christine Mulholland, who represents the San Luis Obispo City Council on the committee. "He's anti-environment. Please do not make a farce of this wonderful advisory committee."
Mulholland and other speakers instead recommended that supervisors appoint Dr. David Chipping, a hydrogeologist and Cal Poly professor. Chipping's application was not included in the meeting agenda because it was received after preparation of the staff report on the committee appointments, Courtney Howard of the county's Public Works Department said after the meeting.
"David Chipping is a true representative of the environmental community," said ECOSLO Executive Director Morgan Rafferty.
Edwards also addressed the meeting, saying, "I'm as much of an environmentalist as any of you folks on the board." He added that he's been working on native plant restoration in Los Osos, and said he wants to implement a water conservation plan in Los Osos, including retrofitting with low-flow toilets and showers, "to allow development to occur."
"I will share my opinion, however divergent and controversial. If it relates to development, and development helps pay, I don't see a problem," Edwards said.
The bylaws of the WRAC specify that environmental representatives must have "a record of membership in one or more environmental groups and/or independent environmental activism."
Sue Luft, president of North County Watch and a retired environmental engineer, applied for another vacant seat on the WRAC, to represent environmental groups.
Supervisors voted unanimously to send all applications to the WRAC for consideration at the group's February meeting before they make any appointments to the committee.
A report on the county's Resources Management System was also considered by supervisors, including information about the water supply around the county.
Supervisors directed county staff to come back with more information about the severity of water supply limitations in Los Osos, Paso Robles' Highway 46 East area, and Nipomo.