PASO ROBLES GROUNDWATER BASIN (PRGWB)
New Irrigated Commercial Crop Production - Agricultural Offset Program
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On October 27, 2015, the Board adopted Resolution 2015-288 that amended County Code (Title 22) to require new and/or expanded irrigated crop production to obtain an Agricultural Offset Clearance from the Department of Planning and Building to minimize further depletion of groundwater levels. On November 5, 2019, the Board amended Title 22 to extend the termination date of the Agricultural Offset Clearance requirement to January 1, 2022. Any Agricultural Offset Clearances that were conditionally approved and still active on December 5, 2019 will now terminate on January 1, 2022.
Within the Paso Basin, there is a subarea called the "area of severe decline" that has more stringent restrictions. Click here for a map. There are three main scenarios for how this ordinance may affect a property:
1. If there is existing irrigated crop production on site within the 5 years preceding the application date, the property can be replanted in the same crop type and acreage with an Ag Offset Exemption. Planting new or expanded crops would require an On-Site Offset Clearance showing the new crop would use the same amount of water as the existing crop, or less.
2. If there is not existing irrigated crop production on site within the 5 years preceding the application date and if the site is not within the "area of severe decline", new irrigated crop production may be allowed with a one-time Ag Offset Exemption to plant crops that use up to 5 acre-feet per year of water (e.g., 4 acres of vineyard).
3. If there is not existing irrigated crop production on site within the 5 years preceding the application date and if the site is within the "area of severe decline", then there are no options for new or expanded irrigated crop production under the current ordinance.