California Wine Region Drains Water Resources for Local Residents

And the residents of Paso Robles, Calif., are not too happy about it

Flickr/ goingslo
Now that the wine region has boomed in demand, residents say the vineyards and growers of Paso Robles are overusing the city's water resources and depleting the basin that supplies the area.

There's been a storm brewing between residents of Paso Robles, Calif., and its neighboring vineyards — over water. Now that the wine region has boomed in demand, residents say the vineyards and growers of Paso Robles are overusing the city's water resources and depleting the basin that supplies the area. 

The Los Angeles Times covers the dispute, which has turned residents against wine growers, some say unfairly. Because California is one of two states that doesn't regulate how much groundwater landowners use (Texas is the other), many believe that the wine growers — now responsible for a $1.2 billion local tourism industry — are overreaching. In fact, many residents are now boycotting locally made wines in protest. But wine growers say they're being unfairly targeted; many wine growers in the region have formed a coalition to acquire "supplemental water" from the California State Water Project and Lake Nacimiento. Plus, they say that growing grapes isn't especially water-intensive compared to other local crops. But tell that to the residents who have grown accustomed to short showers and using paper plates to save on water. 

The LA Times shares that county supervisors have just voted to put a cap on the current level of pumping from the basin that supplies the region, while everyone looks for a long-term solution. Meanwhile, the dispute could end up in court so a "water master" can determine how to best share the water from the basin. 

 


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