Water Usage Offset - New or Expanded Irrigated Crop Production

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How Can I Offset Water Use for New or Expanded Irrigated Crop Production?

Contacts

How is New or Expanded Irrigated Agriculture Affected by Resolution 2015-288?

Title 22 requires that any new irrigated agriculture in the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin be water neutral. 



Check the map or click the link below for an interactive map to determine if the property is located in the area of severe decline. 



Area of Severe Decline Map



Interactive Map 

  1. Click on the "Layers" tab

  2. Check the box for "Groundwater"

  3. Check the box for "1997-2013 Spring Well Decline"



If the property is located in the area of severe decline:

The ordinance does not allow for new or expanded irrigated agriculture to occur in this area, aside from switching from one crop to a different crop where the resulting water use does not increase (On-site offset)



If the property is not located in the area of severe decline:

Any new or expanded irrigated agriculture must offset projected new water use. The property owner will need to apply for an offset clearance.



Offset Requirement

The Urgency Ordinance requires that all new or expanded irrigated crop production offset water use at a 1:1 ratio. Property owners interested in planting new crops need to contact the department of Planning and Building to apply for an offset clearance.

Offset credits for agriculture must come from existing crops currently planted in the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. Estimated water use of existing and proposed crops are calculated using standard average water use per acre per year for specific crop types grown in the region.

There are two types of offset clearances:

On-Site Offset Clearances

An on-site offset clearance involves crop conversion on a single site with a single owner. A property owner may choose to apply for an on-site offset clearance when they are currently growing one crop but wish to switch to a different crop. In some cases, the new crop might be able to cover more or less area while still maintaining the same projected water use.



Application for On-Site Offset Clearance

Off-site Offset Clearance

An off-site offset clearance involves two separate sites within the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. A property owner who wants to plant new irrigated agriculture on land that is currently unplanted or expand irrigated agriculture beyond what is currently planted must apply for an off-site offset clearance with another property owner within the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. For an off-site offset clearance to work, one of the participating property owners must agree to either remove an existing crop or convert to a lower water using crop. 

Application for Off-Site Offset Clearance

Well Metering and Monitoring

Well meters must be installed on any new or existing well that serves a site associated with an Agricultural Offset Clearance. The well must be installed according to the standards below and verified via inspection by Public Works prior to Offset Clearance Final.  



Well Meter Standards



The property owner, or someone designated by the property owner, must read the meter and record data on or about the 1st of the month. This data must be maintained by the property owner.

Exemptions

The ordinance includes five types of exemptions.  Please refer to Ordinance 3308 for complete descriptions of the exemptions

1. Existing crops where satisfactory evidence is shown that those crops have been planted within the last five years.

2. Replanting of the same crop type and acreage where satisfactory evidence is shown that those crops have been planted within the last five years. Must notify the County of intent to plant.

3. Use of efficient technologies where a reduction in total water use is demonstrated. Property owner must provide verifiable evidence is showing that the total water use of the site will not increase as a result of the expansion. Water use data for three years preceding the installation of the water efficient technology and one year following installation must be provided for this exemption. Evidence provided must indicate a water use reduction significant enough that the proposed acreage of the expanded irrigated crop production will not exceed the total average water use of the existing acreage of irrigated crop production, as identified in Tables 2 and 3 of Ordinance 3308. Must contact the County to apply.

4. Sites with an approved vested right exemption under Ordinance 3246 (Paso Robles Groundwater Basin Urgency Ordinance) Note: Planting must be completed by August 27, 2017.

5. New crops that will use 5 acre feet per year or less on previously un-irrigated sites that are not located within the area of severe decline.  Must submit application.