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Groundwater committee survives supes' decision

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It was rumored publicly that some stakeholders would abandon negotiation efforts aimed at conserving the North County’s dwindling water supply if the SLO County board of supervisors didn’t vote their way on a controversial ordinance, but such threats were apparently blown out of proportion.

At the Sept. 25 meeting, Supervisor Frank Mecham said representatives of the San Luis Obispo Farm Bureau, and possibly others, had told him they’d give up on collaborative conservation efforts if the board approved an outright ban on subdividing parcels. The Paso Robles Groundwater Basin Management Plan Blue Ribbon Steering Committee had voted 9-1, with two members abstaining, to send a letter to the board urging them to vote against the ban.

It passed anyway.

The steering committee met for the first time since the passage  on Oct. 18, and Chairperson Larry Werner said members were more committed than ever to addressing the area’s severe water shortages.

“No one was threatening to stomp off and walk away from the table, but it does make it more difficult for our stakeholders to communicate,” Werner said. “That’s why we’re concerned.”

Joy Fitzhugh, who represents the farm bureau, didn’t attend the meeting, but told New Times that her absence was due to illness and that she still supports the committee’s efforts. She had voiced concerns that farmers wouldn’t be able to subdivide land among heirs, but never meant to imply she’d quit if she didn’t get her way.

“We all have the same goal,” Fitzhugh said. “But our ideas on how to get there are very diverse.”

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