OpEd by Richard Schmidt: Tejon’s Paper Water and Shoddy EIR Will Lead to Delays

By Richard Schmidt

Nobody should doubt Tejon Mountain Village’s impact on local water supply will be anything but disastrous.

Paper Water and Lost Taxes

Stating that domestic water will come from Tejon’s State Water Project allotment is reassurance for the ignorant.

The SWP is so oversubscribed it will be able to meet its contractual water delivery promises only in extraordinarily wet years—thus the term “paper water” to describe this water source.

So, in all likelihood, TMV’s water-guzzling urbanites in their multi-million dollar estate homes will be drawing from the same already-over-pumped aquifer as existing residents.

What happens when that runs dry (which it will if overpumped)? Talk about destroying property values and tax base!

County Collusion

As for the county’s collusion with Tejon to claim Tejon Lake is not part of “the project” subject to Enviromental Impact Review analysis, the county’s skating on thin ice in summer’s heat.

Cumulative Impact

EIRs must assess cumulative project impacts, and there’s no way the lake can be ignored under that standard.

Further, it is illegal to “piecemeal” a project to avoid analysis of the inconvenient or to minimize real impacts.

My layman’s guess, if the county sticks to this silliness, is they’ll further lengthen the EIR process by being sued, have to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees, and then will have to redo the EIR properly, under court supervision.

Shoddy EIRs are a case of haste making waste. Something this big needs to be done right, the first time.

Richard Schmidt, an architect who teaches at CalPoly, is a former journalist building a home in Pine Mountain. He was a planning commissioner for the city of San Luis Obispo from 1984 to 1992.

This is part of the July 10, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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