The Goleta Water District made a discreet retreat from a much anticipated showdown with angry agricultural interests later this month by dropping its proposal to sharply increase the rates charged to agricultural customers who expand their water consumption beyond their historical use. District officials argued they were targeting McMansion owners and dilettante farmers who abused their agricultural meters to water vast lawns for less than the district’s actual cost. But many farmers contended the changes would price them right out of business, and district officials were bracing for a major showdown on March 24. Instead, the district will conduct an exhaustive parcel-by-parcel inventory of water use, and then decide what rate changes might be appropriate.

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