My husband and I are an older couple in our 70s and 80s living on a fixed income. We have owned our home here in Creston since 1974. We have weathered all the droughts since then, but now, due to the drought combined with the unlimited groundwater pumping by the vineyards, our well is in imminent danger of going dry.
By the end of last summer, our well level was very low and recovering very slowly. This summer will be worse as the drought continues. A moratorium was passed last October by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, but because of the way the moratorium was written, there are many loopholes, resulting in new vineyards being planted and new very deep wells being drilled, some less than 3 miles from us. This sets the stage for even more ruthless groundwater pumping this year by the vineyards than there was last year.
We have a mortgage to pay. Our equity in our home is our backup for our old age if one or both of us end up in an extended care facility. We can’t afford the mortgage and the cost of drilling a new well. Our property value will plummet if we have no water, so selling our home is not a good option for us.
While there is a need to deal with the drought and a dwindling water supply, creating a water district formed and controlled by Big Ag will not save us. You only have to look at the choices they have made since last year. We need a thoughtful and fair use of the water we depend on to live. The Paso Robles Groundwater Basin is the only source of water for thousands of the basin overliers. We need a voice in how the water will be shared.
Last summer, PRAAGS wanted to create a California Water District; by law, this district would have been formed and controlled by a vote based on acreage owned, i.e. Big Ag. Because such a water district would not address our needs, Pro Water Equity was formed to give the majority of the basin overliers a voice. I became a member of Pro Water Equity and was a grassroots supporter, assisting them with my time and what financial support I could afford. When PRAAGS and Pro Water Equity proposed their “compromised” water district, they essentially became one voice in denying the right of one person, one vote, and I realized they no longer represented me, and have withdrawn my support.
Since then, with my change.org petitions, I have been in touch with hundreds of residents who feel the same way, and I have attended a SLO County Board of Supervisors hearing where speakers opposing the “compromise” outnumbered the supporters three to one. Our voice for one person, one vote was ignored, and now AB 2453—legislation that would make vote by acreage the law for the Paso water district—is working its way through Sacramento. Tell Assemblyman Achadjian and Senator Monning that you support one person, one vote, and Pro Water Equity doesn’t speak for you.
Carol Rowland lives in Creston. Send comments to the executive editor at email@example.com.
-- Carol Rowland - Creston