Water service in Nipomo dries up

Refusing applications from developments after water measure’s defeat makes sense

newsroom@thetribunenews.comJune 28, 2012 

The Nipomo Community Services District has turned off the tap. In the wake of a failed bond election, the district has decided to no longer process new applications for water service. Projects already in the pipeline will not be affected.

The action follows the defeat of abond measure that would have financed construction of a$26 million water pipeline linking Santa Maria and Nipomo. The Nipomo district had planned to buy water from the city of Santa Maria, but opponents argued that the project was too costly and would not bring any new water into the underground basin, but would merely shift what’s already there.

While the NCSD’s decision to deny water to new development seems drastic — especially since there isn’t awhole lot of building going on right now — we agree that it makes sense to call a time-out while the district regroups and decides on a next step.

That will take some time; the district plans to enlist the guidance of a citizens committee. The Supplemental Water Alternatives Evaluation Committee, or SWAEC, will be asked to review all supplemental water alternatives; develop a list of pros and cons for each; and rank the various options.

Wisely, the district is looking beyond its own boundaries for input.

The SWAEC selection committee, at least, will include representatives from areas served by Rural Water, Woodlands Mutual Water and Golden State Water, as well as the Nipomo Community Services District.

That’s a good start, but we strongly urge that the committee itself reflect that geographic diversity.

Here’s why: Residents of areas outside the district will likely be asked, once again, to help foot the bill for whatever option is ultimately selected. It’s only fair that they have a strong voice in reviewing the alternatives.

To that end, we strongly urge those who were so vehemently opposed to the Santa Maria pipeline, including members of the Mesa Community Alliance, to step up and participate in the citizens committee, either by applying for membership or by attending meetings, which will be open to public.

After all, the Mesa Community Alliance — which worked so hard to defeat the pipeline measure — did graciously offer to help find a solution.

“We hope to work with the county and other responsible agencies on a long-range plan to provide an alternative water source and to protect our groundwater supply,” the group said in a statement following the election.

Here’s an excellent opportunity to make good on that offer.

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