Merced County Board of Supervisors, 12-16-14: Groundwater crazy train

Submitted: Jan 04, 2015
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 In its December 16, 2014 meeting, the Merced County Board of Supervisors considered a moratorium on well drilling until such time as an ordinance on groundwater may be enacted the state steps in and stops the groundwater-mining bonanza. -- blj

rtsp://mediaserver.co.merced.ca.us/board/video/2014/12-16-14_bdsupvideo.rv

27.      Provide staff direction on the development of an Ordinance establishing a moratorium on groundwater exports and/or wells as an interim measure during the development of the Groundwater Ordinance.

Chairman Jerry O'Banion: ...so Number 27, which is giving direction to staff on regards to establishing a moratorium or not. What's the pleasure of the board? Is there a motion? Comments? Supervisor Davis.

Supervisor Lynn Davis: I would make the motion that we would go forward with the direction of the ... ordinance establishing a moratorium on groundwater exports and/or wells as an interim measure during the development of the groundwater ordinance.

O'Banion: Is there a second? And Supervisor Kelsey seconds. So we have a motion. Discussion? Supervisor Walsh. Oh, excuse me, Supervisor Kelsey.

Supervisor Deidre Kelsey: I'm just pleased that this is on the agenda today. I don't know how long it is going to take to develop all the details regarding a permanent ordinance and I do have confidence that this board will adopt one eventually. Ah, I just am concerned because we don't have anything in place. It would be prudent I think at this time to adopt an interim ordinance -- not sure how long we'll need it but just keep it in place until we withdraw it. And, ah, there are opportunities that we've seen that folks have taken to put wells in and export water outside of the county and outside of our groundwater basins. I don't think that's in the best interest long term for Merced County. I think we need to be -- as stewards of Merced County and an elected body -- we need to be proactive, to do something in the interim while we wait for the specifics to be developed on the permanent ordinance. So I'm in support of having the staff bringing us some information so that we can seriously consider for adoption. Thank you.

O'Banion: Anyone else? Supervisor Walsh.

Supervisor Hub Walsh: I just have a couple of questions. Um one uh I'm assuming the moratorium would require a new ordinance. I'm not sure um which would also then require us to have certain findings in support of that ordinance. Are the makers of the motion requiring I guess what I a flat moratorium on all new wells regardless of whether they're new, replacements or otherwise. And are the makers of the motion requiring that we refer this to the stakeholders for discussion so got a series of questions the last one bein' um from staff and others, how does this impact our ability to move forward with the other one I mean is the suggestion that we move forward now and have discussion about the moratorium and then we just delay action on the other one until such time as we get the moratorium ordinance worked through? Because the same folks that were working on the details and the deliberations on the other ordinance would be the same folks that would be working on a new ordinance for a moratorium, I think. So, series of questions.

O'Banion: OK. The first question you asked was of the maker of the motion, Supervisor Davis, about ...

Walsh: ... or counsel. Do we need a new ordinance and would we have to have findings to do such an ordinance?

O'Banion: No. I think the question is: what is the intent of the chair. Now, if you're asking for legal counsel that's OK too. So, why don't we have a response as far as intent and then a response as far as legality. Supervisor Davis.

Davis: I was my understanding that what has taken place over the last several months when this initially started and the suggestion was to go in the direction of a moratorium and then it was changed over to the large stakeholders and do a uh ordinance of a longer term and a longer intensity and the ... started out as an emergency ordinance I believe. But to bring you up to speed and correct me if I'm wrong but I thought the other thing that was taking place there for awhile was we had basically two ordinances moving forward at the same time they were paralleling each other was my understanding from the briefings I got from staff we had an ordinance that was being discussed and covering underneath the stakeholder group and we had an ordinance maybe on a quicker note which was more of an emergency type ordinance which needed to be in place until the other ordinance came on board. So what I'm looking for and what I'm asking is if we're not going to have the ordinance the stakeholders have been working on the last several months in place before June or July or the next drought system time frame then what we need to have is this other ordinance in place until the stakeholder ordinance you're talking about Supervisor Walsh is in place. And I think we've already even I mean not amongst ourselves but I think that staff has looked at some direction on what a MOU a moratorium, correct me if I'm wrong we'd looked at what that moratorium would look like ah correct me if I'm wrong and-and-and give me a time frame that you know I would think that would be something that could happen within the second meeting in January possibly.

O'Banion: 'K. Counsel, you want to give uh as far as the process if we do a moratorium?

County Counsel James Fincher: Y-Yes. If we were to go about doing a moratorium it would be an ordinance. It would be subject to your normal ordinance process of the two meetings, the public notice, um, it would also be required to go through a CEQA review. So, um, we would need some more specifics from the board as far as longevity of the ordinance, if you want to have a sunset date, if this is intended as an open ended moratorium because that would likely increase the CEQA review, ah, as well as when you say a prohibition on transfers what do you mean? do you mean transfers across the basins? do you mean transfers across the county lines? do you mean transfers into the county as well? uh, and we would have to quantify those to determine what an environmental impact they would cause uh, so we would have to have those specifics. Um and we would have-have worked on a single ordinance. The direction from the board is sort of uh uh changing as the process has been going along. Earlier on we did look at the possibility of an emergency ordinance. As staff began to assimilate and accumulate a lot of data (in this county we assimilate data before we accumulate it -- it's a Merced thing--blj) and go through the data and what we identified was a long-range overdraft within this valley especially our four basins which has been identified by the state, so yes, there's an important issue but not the type of issue that would identify as an emergency because this has been a long-standing issue and the subsidence, we actually spoke with the former member of the water board who is an environmental counsel who said that the subsidence here has been identified for the last 10 years and it's been talked about and been in reports so there really isn't a justification for an emergency action, um, but there that still gives the normal process, the difference between an emergency ordinance and a regular ordinance is the effective date, that emergency ordinance is effective immediately, the regular ordinance is effective 30 days later, um, but currently ... state ... that there is a single draft ordinance ah that has been changing as it's been going along but it's which is what you've seen the last board meeting; uh but there would be uh if the board was to direct moratorium staff would then stop working on that and proceed working on the moratorium ordinance which would uh be another ordinance, then we would also need from the water folks and our water consultant the data to be provided to our office so that we could evaluate the CEQA implications of it and uh  as far as what transfers are ongoing and what are traditional contracts out there and grievance.

O'Banion: Supervisor Pedrozo.

Supervisor John Pedrozo: Real quick now, uh, so, uh, basically you're sayin' we're in the process of implementing an ordinance we've been working on for approximately eight months. This would, we would start all over again as far as this emergency ordinance?

Fincher: Yes and no, and what I mean by that is yes, we would stop working on the one and begin working on a new type of ordinance ah, but ah what I am suggesting is that it would not be appropriate or defendable for it to be an emergency ordinance, ah, which is why we the same reason we removed the emergency from the other ordinance process we are working on and our consultant and outside counsel retained ...that it was not supportable as an emergency ah and it would be much more defendable to just go through the regular process which is in fact what we brought to the board the last time we got this direction um, well, the potential new direction ah, of the moratorium.

Pedrozo: OK. Thank you.

O'Banion: Supervisor Kelsey.

Kelsey: I'm glad that counsel outlined the difference between an emergency ordinance and a regular ordinance. So, it's 30 days and the findings of emergency aren't there. So, 30 days would be fine as far as enacted some kind of moratorium ... I think it won't be hard to find information to support the ordinance and I really feel that we need to do a really good job on the ultimate ordinance that we do adopt. There are lots of lots of moving parts with all that the state relations that are changing and the information, not only the water districts but our own county is developing to add to the data base to understand what our hydrology in this county. It's going to be a bit of a stretch to get anything done right away on the ultimate ordinance. We really need to put together information from the baseline. We don't even have that. We don't even have a cooperative effort between all the different water agencies in the county that we really need to be able to manage our groundwater basin.

Where are we in regards to that? I mean if you think about it we're months and months and months out, probably a year out. Sorry. I wish I could say it would take less, but I'm not sure that when we get down to the groundwater management issue we're going to be able to tackle that because we don't have anything in place. We're going to have to build that from the bottom up.

So I do think it would be appropriate to have an interim measure and that would have to take the form of an ordinance, and that would be a groundwater export and well drilling measure ah that the county would enact on a temporary basis, I'm thinking maybe -- I don't know -- maybe six months. See, we can extend it, right? That's the way I understood it when Mr. Fincher gave me the briefing some time back-- that you can extend ordinances that have sunsets, so I'll let him clarify that later. But I would like to say that this board needs to do something, ah, because right now we are a smorgasbord for anybody that wants to come in and start drilling and exporting and cutting deals with federal agencies that we don't even know anything about. We aren't a commenting agency, we don't get notification from a lot of these actions that are going on because we don't need to because we are not a body of authority regarding ground water at this time. I think we need to establish ourself as a authority, as a elected body which is in all areas of the county,  when it comes to groundwater issues,.

And I do appreciate the efforts that the two supervisors have put into the committee and the staff as well. I recognize that it will take a little time before counsel's office and environmental review for any documents that are prepared and brought forward. I think it's the right thing to do. Just because it rained a little bit doesn't mean this problem is going away. It's ah, the basins have continued to drop for years and years. We need to do something. I think it's appropriate to look at an ordinance that is some kind of interim measure before we get the final one on the table for discussion.

So I would like to see staff directed to do that, to start to work on that, to bring us the ideas, bring us some of the concerns, put them on paper and let us as a board collectively decide what to do with that. Thank you.

O'Banion: Supervisor Walsh. Also, we are going to let individuals of the public make comments, so go ahead, Supervisor Walsh.

Walsh: Uh, I appreciate the passion and interest on the part of our colleagues, I will share with you I have real questions about the moratorium simply because, two things, one, it really conveys a message to the folks that have been engaged in this process so far that we're not serious about going forward on the current process we are, and I think that's the wrong message to convey to those folks who have been so far engaged in discussions, uh, candidly it will delay 'cause we only have so much staff and the staff engaged in the current rework discussions with stakeholders and getting comments from others uh will be otherwise occupied in this, so my first thought is that this is really the wrong message to convey and I keep hearing it's going to take us a year, God I hope not, because that sure isn't the plan that we've been having the discussions with the stakeholders, a year's worth of meetings before we uh, so, I'll be interested to hear but I can share with you I have real concerns about the proposed ordinance on moratoriums.

O'Banion: OK. Anyone in the public have comments? Remember to please state your name and address and remember you're limited to three minutes.

Eric Swenson: My name is Eric Swenson. I reside at 3610 Syracuse Court in Merced. (He is a project engineer for Shannon Pump Co., a 70-year old Merced firm selling, maintaining and repairing all kinds of water pumps, and former staff in Merced County Environmental Health Division -- blj) As I read about this morning the consideration of a moratorium on drilling in Merced County, I starting thinking a little about what that would actually mean for the county. And as I reflected there are probably about six classes of well drilling going on in the county. One of those that has been discussed a lot is export. Another of those are wells to support new ag lands that are significant intensifications or brand new extractions to support new agricultural production. Another is supporting existing agricultural needs as replacement wells are needed for wells that might fail or are no longer able to produce. Another are domestic water-supply wells, both for individual and municipal use as well as small water systems. You also have new industrial wells potentially being requested to support new industrial operations within the county. Then you also have potential replacements of existing industrial wells to support industrial operations, either manufacturing or food processing. And I've also become aware of a whole other category which is very gray which is growers out there who have a multi-year plan for expansion of orchards or permanent plantings that they have already ordered trees for and are moving ahead with and don't know exactly where things are headed.

Um, I guess today I'd like to say that if the moratorium is considered, I would like to see those uses that support ongoing agricultural, domestic and industrial operations would not be prohibited for people to continue to drill for industrial, agricultural or domestic wells.

So I would think as you consider what you might direct staff to do, you would consider maintaining existing economic productive activity in the county and the replacement wells to keep that ongoing. We'd also like to keep our drillers active within the county and not basically pack up I think and go somewhere else.

Um, so that would be my encouragement is to continue to support ongoing operations at a minimum. Thank you.

O'Banion: Thank you. Anyone else wish to speak.?

George Park: Mornin,' Board, George Park, manager, Lone Tree Water Company, El Nido. We're an agricultural irrigation district, privately held. Uh, this whole issues originally blew up last May over the water-export issue, specifically that the county had no control over and I think if you're going to have a moratorium I think it should be more directed to the water exporting issue and not at the well-drilling issue and allow the process to continue to take place with the stakeholders which, being that the well drilling is a much more complex issue affecting so many more people and the water exporting issue is a much narrower issue affecting much fewer group of people. So, that's my comment. Thank you.

O'Banion: Thank you .... Mr. Weimer ...

Bob Weimer: Bob Weimer, 4631 Sultana, Atwater. Uh, thank you for this opportunity. Uh, I concur. Mr. Swenson had some excellent points and put some good information together. Ah, but one of the things you go back with and you talk about individuals, I'm a farmer myself, and yes we do make plans out in the future but some of those plans are always at a risk and this is a situation that is at risk now uh whether you are going to go forward and plant trees and that's a risk a grower has to take, he has to make that decision. There's millions of trees in the works for this coming year that growers have said they are going to try to plant, we don't know if there's going to be any water but they'll try to move forward, I ... in this county, I'm not too concerned, it's just something that has to be done, if you're looking at new intensity plantings that's a major problem to us.

Going to Mr. Walsh's comments that I agree that I would hope that this would be a parallel process, if in fact you move to an emergency moratorium if it's possible but I think this process we've had with the stakeholders we need to continue, it needs to continue very quickly. I think we're on the verge of some breakthrough but I don't think that .. we unfortunately got derailed a week ago ah but that was due I don't think we had stakeholders' meetings to address the issues as they came through and I still think we're very close. We have a meeting scheduled for next week and I hope that it would stay on schedule and one in January and I think that the points that were brought up in those items were not something none of them that could not be resolved.

So if you .....eh, eh, eh, support a moratorium I do think that we need to maintain the parallel process very quickly with the stakeholders' group and working with that. We do need to resolve this export out of the basins, export out of the counties, new wells that are being drilled for the purpose of privatization of water sales, ah, we cannot afford for that to continue. That does need to be dealt with. Thank you.

O'Banion: Anyone else wish to speak?

Greg Hostetler: Greg Hostetler, Los Banos and Merced California. I think the previous speakers said some important points and I think the board and the committee and the stakeholders have made progress in what I call the first ordinance that the county will ever have to my knowledgeable. Uh, I think, uh, the stakeholders and all the parties involved in that first draft ordinance have good intentions. Uh, I wasn't involved in it to the extent I need to be. Uh, we were busy because of the drought and it was with acres we farm and we operate uh, we had a tough year like everybody else trying to figure out how to deal with our water, uh, maintain our crops and uh our employees. So I think as one of the previous speakers said, I think that they're fairly close or reasonably close on this other agreement. I don't think there's any real big problems that we can't deal with in what I call the first draft ordinance.

What concerns me a little bit, ah, and actuallyquiteabitbut ah is one, when we use the M-word, moratorium, uh, actually so broad that it impacts the unintended people.

And I agree that we need to deal with groundwater exports for sure and I don't think that the groundwater export business is going to expand at any reasonable pace that will outpace the process of the original ordinance that I think will be adopted. 'think the stakeholders are going to support uh your first ordinance as soon as there's a few more meetings and I would be quite surprised if it took a year. I had hope and envisioned that it would not take much more than 90 days (not too good on the envisioning this year, ol' Hoss -- blj)

The, as some of the previous speakers talked about, 'impacts other people have replacement wells, wells that cave in due to casing failures, and a lot of that work is going on now during the winter off season and the groundwater export takes so much time to get your environmental review going and get it completed, all your engineering with the agencies and the money it's going to take to do it, I wouldn't envision anything that would be substantial in this county relative to groundwater export prior to potentially the adoption of the other ordinance.

So, I think I would like to see the staff concentrate on the first ordinance and spend their time and money on that and get the stakeholders to the table that want to be there and I think they're all willing to do that ... between harvest and everything going on during the holidays I think we're at the first of the year and we're not at harvest (bell dings). Thank you very much.

O'Banion: Thank you. Other comments? OK. We'll turn it back to the board. Supervisor Walsh. Pardon me (to someone in the audience)? Sure. Come forward.

"Derek Carlin": My name is Derek Carlin (he mumbled his name and it sounded like Derek or Derrick Carlin or Parlin -- blj) I'm a resident here in the City of Merced. I don't care to go into address, I don't care for any retaliation...

O'Banion: That's fine.

"Carlin": Uh, I read a lot of nation/international news and I don't know how much you folks realize we're the focus of the world in regards to this drought. And I think, thank you ... I should back up a little ... that you for your service and happy holidays to all you folks as well but uh (mumbling) I can't believe you guys are taking this long to get something in place here to make sure that not a single drop of water is leaving this county. I can't believe you guys are taking this long. We're in a 3-year drought and in all respect, Mr. Fincher, it is an emergency. It's the worst drought this state has seen in its history as far as we know (nods, looking directly at Fincher) in any type of recorded history.

Three years into a drought and you guys can't put your thumb down on the water flowing out of this county.

With all respect to you folks, you start to look like you're on a crazy train. I don't know what anybody's thinking here. You, I mean the whole world is looking at you and you're standing back and letting water get exported out of this county (wonder if the speaker ever thought about how much water gets imported into this county through the Delta-Mendota Canal and the State Water Project and is stored in this county behind the San Luis Dam, not to forget the Merced River, which originates in Mariposa County) -- blj)

That's crazy. Three years into the worst drought this state has ever seen, you have land subsidence -- hope I'm saying it correctly, uh, you know, uh, I don't understand you guys' thinking.  The only thing I can think of is money That's the only thing. I don't know what backroom deals are going on, uh. whose hands are getting greased here, but uh that is crazy. That is plum crazy. That is absolutely nuts. I can see helping neighbors any day of the week. But folks that are in a different county that aren't being responsible about managing their water properly. They're getting lots of water over there I've seen how all the operations are run over there. I've driven many hours through those fields out there. I just can't understand you folks. Absolutely crazy. With all respect for every one of you.

Thank you again for your service, Mr. Davis, uh, absolutely crazy. Nuts.

O'Banion: Thanks for your comments. Anyone else want to speak? All right, we're going to close the public opportunity to speak at this time. Supervisor Walsh.

Supervisor Walsh: Thank you much, Mr. Chair. Just a couple of comments. One, in the course of our discussions here this water issue is a complicated matter, we've had lots of stakeholder engagement in this process, just a reminder to our community, we are a net importer of water, you talk countywide, we net import more water than we export. So, just a reminder in that process, we have the Delta Mendota Canal that frankly dumps a lot of water on the west side, so we are a net importer of water. However, do we think we have concerns about the export of water outside of the basins? Yes, we do.

Uh, I would comment on two things, one, we've had some suggestions that if we were to go forward with a moratorium that we might even, for lack of a better word I'll use mine, entertain waivers, certain kinds of functions, interesting enough, those wording are really reflective of the current discussions we're having on the other ordinance, those suggestions, so, and um, I would also say that the suggestions that the delay was really frankly not politics, it wasn't an attempt to delay, it really was an attempt, at least on my part, the maker of the motion, to allow for staff's review of the inputs we had received and to allow for community input. I don't think it would take a year to go forward with this endeavor, candidly, I don't think we're going to keep the stakeholders at the table for a year if we frankly go on that long with this process; they're looking for something shorter in this process, we have meetings scheduled, the reason the thing was put off until after the first of the year was candidly to get the stakeholders together, and secondly, we don't meet again. If an emergency, we could meet again if that's what we want to do, I mean frankly part of the delay was we don't meet again this year. So, as a result, I will be voting No on this moratorium suggestion and the reason is that we already have a process in place I think frankly will move forward in addressing these kinds of concerns that have been raised in this community.

O'Banion: Supervisor Kelsey.

Kelsey: Thank you. The moratorium. I'm so glad we're having this discussion because we have put off this discussion for a long time in hopes of having a regular ordinance that we could implement. I think that the public submitted some comments a couple two weeks ago maybe this last week. I don't think that was enough in my mind to stop going forward. What I believe is that there needed to be time for the entire board to participate in this discussion and that's what we're doing right now, that's what's in front of us, an opportunity for us to participate in something that has not been pre-tuned and pre-decided and brought forward. I really did not appreciate that at all. When you assign committee members to do the research and bring back information it doesn't mean that we don't have opportunity to comment and have influence. That was what I was being told. And I still feel that you're on the right track, that you're going in the right direction but it's going to take time and not only is it going to take time, it's going to take an opportunity to inform the public about what the cost is going to be. There's going to be a cost. There's going to be a cost to implement new regulations. There's going to be new fees. There's going to be lots of new forms. There's going to be a lot more risk in trying to get a well in the future if we go forward with the ordinance the way it's been written. We don't know what those things are yet. I can't honestly say if someone called me up and said, 'what's it going to cost for me to put in an ag well and I'm in an area where there's a cone of depression, so what does that mean for me?' I can't tell 'em because I don't know yet because that information has not been developed yet. I do know that we are moving forward and I'm glad. I think it's about time -- this county is behind the times when it comes to understanding what our groundwater is -- I do think also that it is time to have an interim ordinance that exports are prohibited. And, it's just a place holder but it will get us to the next step. And so, I will be supporting the motion and I do think that there are, the reason for having the discussion and the reason for asking staff to bring forth additional information ... as well as options, gives us as a full board -- not as a committee -- but the full board, the opportunity to make decisions. And that would include exemptions I would imagine, I'm not interested in having people that have a well that's collapsed have to have a moratorium. That's silly. People need to have services. In fact, my well collapsed over the weekend. It was a real drag. Luckily, I had someone come and fix it. It was just a casing issue like was mentioned. But these things happen from time to time, they always do, but I live very close to the Merced River, very close, I can hear it at night when it's running, and uh, -- they have to turn it on and off these days, it's not a natural rainfall anymore --but a lot of wells have dried up in Snelling and all along the river and that's not a good thing when you have a major riparian source of water for the county, when people that are located along there, either ag wells or even domestic wells, they dry up. We've had it happen at Henderson Park, we've had it happen at the cemetery, and that's a stone's throw, literally, from the river.

So, things are happening that I think most people are unaware except if you live in an area that's affected. But one thing that would make a logical decision for this board to make would be to prohibit export, groundwater-mining export out of the groundwater basins. And I think that's something we can ask staff to do. It's probably something that they could even put together a parallel work plan with the long-term ordinance. So, that's where I'm hoping this will go and uh, I'm sure that it we'll be talking about it again, whether it passes or it doesn't, it's not going to go away.

O'Banion: Supervisor Davis.

Davis: Yeah I'm not against what, I'm not down on what these stakeholders have accomplished so but, but I think uh the word that has been left out and maybe gone by the wayside lately is the word, 'urgency.' And that's uh, my concern, that the urgency is there in some part and maybe it's not there in others'. (Ordinary farmers feel urgency, large landowners, like Hostetler, feel urgency, but maybe as an urgent need to delay a groundwater ordinance while certain landowners are no doubt trying to make deals to export their groundwater out of the county, planting a few thousand additional acres of almonds  and  while attorneys for individuals and/or  their various associations figure out who to sue on what grounds? That theory's bound to be only a sliver of the wedge being driven in here.-- blj) The other concern I have is District 3 and the 1,700 residents plus that live in District 3 and that have independent wells, uh, most of them are anywhere from 50 feet to 200 feet -- 190 feet, and the phone calls that I receive in District 3 are about 'what do I do? how do I get water to my house? how can I even get a well driller to show up? Uh, and how can...? How would you feel if you were out there and how do you answer those questions -- your well is dry and you can't even get a well driller to show up for eight months possibly in order to drill your domestic well? Those are concerns that I have, just to start out with, for District 3. Also, I have concerns throughout the county, which we transfer water out of the county where  we have a drought (Will Hillary fix it? Jeb? Jerry?--blj) particularly a three year drought, where, we not only do that but we, in the ag community, we expand our operations during a drought. And I think that if you, as an ag community, plan your operations during a drought, that maybe that should be on the responsibility of the farmer that's taking on that task. Uh, and, but, why, uh, I just can't comprehend why anyone would go in that direction and not be good stewards of our water during a 3-year drought. (Because they've got the ethics of the majority of the Merced County Board of Supervisors -- blj) and one that could go into four years, and that's what I see lacking so far, is the stewardship of managing our water ourselves. If you drove by my house in the McSwain area my yard went dead, my trees started to die, but that was because I cut my watering down to almost nothing because I was concerned about the well water within our area.

If individuals on their own -- don't get me wrong, I don't want to write more government regulations, I'd rather not see this even have to come before the board, because I don't believe in more government regulations, I believe we should regulate ourselves. But when it comes to a point in time when we cannot regulate ourselves and you ask the government to do the regulation for you then I think government needs to step up to the plate and do it.

We're in a 3-year drought. If we don't get the rain we need in the next few months, we're gonna be in a 4-year drought. Even if we come out of the drought, we still haven't resolved the subsidence problem because the water table is still way below where it was 15 years ago, four years ago or even one year ago. The water table in my own area has dropped from 30 feet to 70 feet. I haven't checked it in the last few months, it might be down to 120 feet, I don't know, I haven't checked it lately (maybe you don't want to know, your neighbors don't want to know, and the majority of supervisors definitely don't want to know -- blj)

But the thing is, something needs to be done. Urgency needs to be put into this ordinance, and I think we're doing a disservice to the county and to the community if we don't go forward with a...some form of ordinance in the interim while this other ordinance is being worked, and I would vote for going forward with this. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. (Like the supervisor he replaced four years ago, Mike Nelson, US Air Force Major (ret.) Davis's judgment matured about the time he was voted out of office. He got below  reactionary rhetoric long enough to see  who the real local anti-social forces are. Sayonara, Davis -- blj)

O'Banion: OK, we have at least two additional comments from board members, but I'm going to take a 5-minute break. We'll come back...OK, I'll call the meeting back to order and the next person on the list was Hub Walsh?

Walsh: Thank you Mr. Chair. One, I think we've got a motion and a second so we're almost at the point where we ought to call for the question, I would just advise my colleagues that the proposed ordinance underway calls for no experts--exports. Also, frankly, I'm srrnllshhslrh also calls for well drilling gunna require you give information about the impact, so much of the concerns that you're talking about that might be forthcoming in a 30-60-90-day process are really underway right now. And the answers about the details would have to be in the moratorium, also, so I'm not sure we get ahead of this process, and so, I've tipped ...I've-I've advised my position and so, uh. uh, I wanted to make sure you knew -- much of the concerns that you're addressing are in the current ordinance that we are talking about with stakeholders. (Is Walsh really stupid enough to believe the drivel coming out of his mouth? -- blj)

O'Banion: Supervisor Pedrozo.

Pedrozo: Real quick, I echo what Supervisor Walsh says, and also, we're very close to getting the ordinance done that Mr. Weimer said, you heard Mr. Hostetler, Mr. Swenson, we're very close. So I just think we're taking a step back and move forward (samba? jitterbug? tai ch'i?-- blj) on the one we've been working on for eight months and we're almost done.

O'Banion: Other comments? OK. I do have a few comments. I think we're doing a disservice to the group of individuals (Is one of those individuals Steve Sloan, the former chairman of the county Planning Commission who sold the 27,000 acre feet of groundwater to the Del Puerto Water District in Stanislaus County? Is any member of the public permitted to know who the stakeholders are? -- blj)) that have been diligently working on this issue for seven, six, eight months and my vision of what's going to occur is that after the stakeholders meeting that's coming forward we'll probably see the ordinance come back on the ordinance in either January or February (time to check the rain season and federal and state estimates of water deliveries and make deals for export that wouldn't be covered by the ordinance, plant more almonds, order more trees for more plantings, line up drillers for new, super wells,  and get the lawsuits lined up ... blj) for consideration and action. I think we would be doing a disservice to change routes, to go with a moratorium at this time is not the right solution to the problem. Um, I think that, I have full confidence in the stakeholders and the board members in the work that they have done over the last period of time to bring it to the point that we're at.

All right, Supervisor Kelsey, you have an additional comment.

Kelsey: Yes, I have an additional comment. I think it is a disservice to the county not to have something come forward that's already in the ordinance and that would be a moratorium, a more than vague referencdes to yet another ordinance with a moratorium until we get the final one (since there's been one vague reference to another "parallel" ordinance in the works that contains reference to a moratorium  throughout the entire debate that there is a moratorium included in the ordinance being laboriously sabotaged by great stakeholders like Weimer (representing one large group of east side almond growers), Hostetler (from the west side and the largest almond grower in the county) and Swenson (whose fortunes are tied to the volume of pump business of Shannon Pumps), we are left -- NOT FOR THE FIRST TIME -- but as always, watching Kelsey sell out to the power at the last moment by making gibberish of her position,  Par for the course for the River Dimwitz set -- blj)

I have no way to predict how long it's going to take. I have, we have a change in board (Davis leaving?--blj) I don't know if it will ever pass. I think this would be the appropriate thing to do. It would demonstrate to the citizens of our county that we are serious about adopting something and that's it not all about politics, it's really about what's best for the county and it's something we could do that's independent of that particular ordinance that we are having considered at this point but the public. Thank you. (This is one who adores the tones of self-righteousness issuing forth in her own mouth, but she's scared of the power. She doesn't want Hostetler buzzing the family spread again in his helicopter if he still has one and she definitely doesn't want any problems with Mr. Gallo. So, she lapses into incoherence and the self-pity of the loyal minority about to lose another vote, and says you should know what she means. -- blj)

O'Banion: Supervisor Davis.

Davis: You lost me on disservice to the stakeholders. I don't remember saying anywhere in my comments, saying they weren't doing a good job and should continue working on the ordinance, the final ordinance that's going to be put in place. All was I asking for was an interim before that takes place, so I-I-I- you lost me, Mr. Chair, when you say I was doing a disservice to people. Nowhere do I plan to do that. They're doing an excellent job. They're looking at all entities and making sure that we have something in place that needs to be in place.

So,  that's--I do take exception to that word, and I agree with Supervisor Kelsey in what she just said and, likeIsay, we need to go forward with this because we need to have something in place. There is no guarantee that-that ... when the other ordinance is going to come onto, come before this board next year.

O'Banion: I didn't make reference to any individual that make a concern. My comments were my comments and I truly respect yours and I certain hope that you respect mine.

All right. We're going to take a vote. The action before us is to approve a motion to enact a moratorium and develop that ordinance.

27.      Provide staff direction on the development of an Ordinance establishing a moratorium on groundwater exports and/or wells as an interim measure during the development of the Groundwater Ordinance.

All those in favor, signify by saying Aye. (Kelsey and Davis--blj) Opposed? No (his No is added to Walsh's and Pedrozo's-- blj) The motion fails.

All right. Let's go on with the agenda.

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