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Cal Poly study estimates that reductions to irrigated agriculture could potentially cost the local economy hundreds of millions of dollars and the loss of more than 3,000 jobs. 


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The Economic Impact on the Local Economy of Irrigated Agriculture in the Paso Robles Area and Potential Impacts of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act by Lynn Hamilton, Ph.D. and Michael Mccollough, Ph.D.

  • View report:  Cal Poly Economic Impact Study.

  • The study was commissioned by:  

    • Shandon-San Juan (SSJ) Water District

    • Estrella-El Pomar Creston (EPC) Water District

    • Farm Credit West

    • Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance

    • San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau, and Travel Paso.

  • Please email public comments to .




New Times Article

"Ag-Backed Study Says Potential Water Cutbacks in Paso Robles Could Cost

Thousands of Local Jobs"

With policy makers about to decide which strategies to pursue for basin sustainability, farmers like Matt Turrentine, of Grapevine Capital Partners, hope the study results are sobering.  Turrentine, who represents the ag industry on the four-member Paso Basin Cooperative Committee—which is charged with balancing the basin—told New Times that the study highlights "how important it is to continue to look for other constructive solutions beyond just cutbacks."

He said he wants to first prioritize other strategies—like deploying recycled wastewater from the city of Paso Robles to the basin, setting up a voluntary fallowing program, and adopting best groundwater management practices for farming.  "There very well may need to be some cutbacks, but this study should underscore for everyone that we need to exhaust all other possibilities first," Turrentine said. "The wine industry and the grape growing community have a profoundly positive economic impact on the county, and this illustrates how even what seems like a relatively minor level of cutbacks in extractions of groundwater can dampen that economic impact.  With Diablo closing and the COVID pandemic, the last thing we need right now is a further damper on the economy." 


Pacific Coast Business Times - Op Ed

"Opinion:  Proposed Water Cuts Could Dry Up the Basin

Brent Burchett, Executive Director of the SLO County Farm Bureau, said "To be clear, everyone agrees we must be better stewards of our limited natural resources.  But we need to find solutions that won’t cause irreparable harm to our economy. San Luis Obispo County farmers and agriculture industry leaders are at the table and ready to talk about solutions.

Thankfully, there are many options for achieving sustainability. We can invest in new sources of water and we can increase adoption of better management practices on the farm. Cutbacks are without a doubt part of that solution, but they cannot be our only approach, no matter how politically expedient they may seem.  It’s time to work together and explore every option to save jobs and protect the San Luis Obispo County economy during these uncertain times," said Mr. Burchett.


Wine Biz Monthly Article

"Paso Robles Subbasin Stands to Lose Up to $458 Million Annually

"The question that I find really interesting is what additional policies are needed to ensure both sustainable water use and economic viability?  I think that's the critical issue here that still remains to be answered.  What policy solutions can bring those together?" said Lynn Hamilton, PhD, one of the authors of the study.

""This is a really important piece of work," said Randy Heinzen, president and owner of Vineyard Professional Services. "Given the cumulative effects of this current economic crisis, the pending Diablo plant closure, which is going to have a $1 billion hit to our local industry and just the difficulties and hurdles of managing a business here in California for our farms, wineries, farm operators we hopefully will see wise decisions made as to how to bring this basin into balance," Heinzen said. 

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