"The drought is being used as a political mechanism to take away property rights," said Cindy Steinbeck of Steinbeck Vineyards; Winery in Paso Robles. To take water from streams, lakes and rivers in California, you must have permits and licenses, but no such process existed before for groundwater. Now, groundwater legislation becomes law.
On September, 16 governor Brown Jr. signed the legislation that mandates the creation of local groundwater agencies that will manage, control the extraction of water from underground, and create plans to help sustain water supplies in the state.
"We are in a severe drought, but that doesn't mean private landowners should have to give up what is theirs." Three opposing groups formed to advocate different approaches, from forming a water district to stopping future growth to adjudicating water rights by a court process.
Groundwater has been regulated in greatly diverse ways from other water sources. Surface water and groundwater are handled oppositely in state law in a way that makes little sense, because as we know one affects the other.
The water deficit created impressive rifts in the Paso Robles community, turning neighbors against neighbors, holing winery versus winery, over the best way to refresh the shared water basin. "
"We are all peers," said Steinbeck, whose association expects two lawsuits she's filed will force adjudication. "We just have entire different philosophical reasonings. My idea comes from a property-rights prospective. I believe that if I take care of what I have and my neighbors do the alike, we are the best chamberlains of this land." As virtually any Californian can tell you, we are in a cruel drought. In the last two years in Paso Robles, we've had almost no rain. Listening to the national news, I'd be surprised if not most of the other states knows we had no rain in the Golden State for the past couple of years.
The Paso Robles water Basin is the biggest natural underground aquifer in California. Landowners are not happy to become a source of water of outside communities. They are always dealing with water shortages themselves. As a fact, many homeowners targeted lands with wells, and now, when the state tries to intrude into their property rights, they are willing to fight.
The Board of Supervisors of AAGS, Agricultural Alliance Groundwater Solutions, is opposed to export their water outside the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin.
Does it mean we shouldn't flee to Paso Robles this weekend? I hope not. When it come to love, romance most Californias think Paso Robles. With cowboy bars, offbeat art studios, and a state-of-the-art tasting rooms, this area in the California wine country is on the top-list of the state attractions. Hopefully, we will not lose famous California destination over wine wars. But as everyone else in the state, the California drought does not play nice.