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Groundwater Could Limit Future Growth In San Diego’s Backcountry

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Aired 2/8/11

San Diego County Supervisors will consider their plan for future growth tomorrow. Their existing plan was drawn up 30 years ago.

San Diego County Supervisors consider their plan for future growth in non-urban areas tomorrow. Their existing plan was drawn up 30 years ago. This will be the third public hearing on the issue.

There are conflicting opinions on how much development can happen in the rural areas where water pipes don’t reach. About 40,000 San Diego residents across 1,800 square miles depend on groundwater.

A study by geologist Jim Bennett shows the growth allowed under the existing General Plan would threaten more than a quarter of the region’s 86 groundwater basins. He said people would have to dig much deeper wells to survive. The cost of a typical well that is deepened to 1,000 feet could be over $10,000, he said.

County staff have recommended less growth in areas without piped water. It’s part of a plan to move future growth west, where new residents would be supplied by the County Water Authority.

Other water experts say the county’s groundwater analysis is overly conservative and should not be used to restrict development.

Supervisors are grappling with a number of options for how to rezone the back country. They will hear 27 reports on issues like fire protection, property rights and climate change.

The hearing will start at 9 a.m. in the County Administration Building on Pacific Highway.

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