The big selling point touted by PRAAGS, PRO Water Equity, and the Board of Supervisors (BOS) is that the establishment of a water district will result in “local control.” There will be no more local control than currently exists today. In fact, the “control” will be exactly the same. AB 2453 clearly states that neither the BOS nor the Flood Control and Water Conservation District (FCWCD) will have their authority altered as a result of passage of the bill. This tells me that the BOS and the FCWCD will have authority over the proposed water district. The BOS would still be performing as they have: growth with no concern for the results of that growth.
The new district would chase after new water sources and assess property owners ever-increasing amounts. This is because the BOS will continue with an aggressive growth plan, using more and more water, and the district will need more money to obtain more water. The financial impact of the assessments will be felt the most by the residents of the North County. Because the large property owners are businesses, they can write off the assessment costs and increase prices of their products. Residents, many of whom are living on fixed incomes, cannot. The one-for-one offset program is wishful thinking. The county has done a terrible job of controlling even the smallest construction projects. I don’t think they can control the offset program.
We already have a water district! The members of the BOS are the FCWCD. They have the authority to take the required action (if needed) as they did with the Emergency Ordinance. The BOS does not want to manage the basin—however, it is their job! Interesting position: Vote yourself a raise, then eliminate part of your job responsibilities.
Finally, I have to wonder if the basin really is in “crisis.” We had to replace our well about eight or nine years ago. So did three of our neighbors. There probably were more, but that information is not available to the public. There was no panic. No word of a crisis. This time, it was different. This time, there was a group (PRO Water Equity) going around describing how bad things had gotten and that a lot of wells had gone dry. But they couldn’t tell you how many because it wasn’t available to the public. So where were they getting their information? The county monitored 320 wells, receiving reports twice each year. They utilized the services of outside experts. They monitored stream flows. The Planning Department advised the BOS regarding the adequacy of water supply to meet planned growth. All of this information, and more, and the BOS never indicated that the basin was in overdraft, so we have to assume that there wasn’t one. Now a BOS consultant has reviewed the same information and concluded that the basin has lost an average of 2,400 acre feet of water per year for almost two decades! Amazing!
There has been a great deal of posturing by some big money players in the last several years. These are people whose only goal is to make a lot of money on water, and they don’t care whose water it is.
It is a very concerning time, and our BOS has let us (residents) down. To clarify, when I have referred to the BOS in a negative light, I am referring to supervisors Gibson, Hill, and Mecham. As intelligent as I’m sure they are, they are selling the residents of the North County down the river. Obviously, I don’t know exactly why they have taken the positions they have; I simply know that they taken positions that are far afield of the “common good.”
We don’t need this water district, and we don’t need to be part of the State Water Project.
-- Jim Olesnanik - Templeton