One week after rejecting a proposed ordinance that would restrict pumping from three groundwater basins in sharp decline, the San Luis Obispo County supervisors stumbled their way to a decision to reconsider the issue at a future meeting.
The proposed Countywide Water Conservation Ordinance would place tools in the toolbox to limit increased water use in three groundwater basins declared to be at Level of Severity III, where demand has met or exceeded dependable supply: the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, Los Osos Groundwater Basin, and the Nipomo Mesa. The ordinance is intended to pick up where temporary limitations leave off, including the urgency ordinance that limits new and increased pumping from the Paso Robles basin. That ordinance will expire later this year.
The new ordinance would also create an offset program, where new and increased groundwater use could be allowed if paired with reductions elsewhere, including home appliance retrofits, reduced agricultural irrigation, and other measures.
First District Supervisor Frank Mecham—who voted against the ordinance on Feb. 3—brought the issue back up at the Feb. 10 meeting, adding that he’d reconsider the issue if the supervisors could find a way to make the ordinance temporary and used only when necessary, such as during severe drought. That attempt petered out after a few blunt exchanges among the supervisors but reappeared later in the meeting, after Supervisors Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson jumped on the opportunity to get Mecham’s support to reconsider the issue. The item is tentatively set to be heard on Feb. 24.
-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay