About the Colony

A less-than-perfect plan to refill Atascadero Lake

Special to The TribuneJuly 14, 2014 

I visited Hearst Castle last week. As usual, it was an enjoyable experience as my wife and I showed off that magnificent setting to family members (even though the castle is homage to conspicuous consumption). My reverie ended as I walked to the men’s room and found it locked, only to be reminded I had to use one of the portable toilets lined up outside. My outrage was quelled slightly as I remembered that this was in an effort to conserve water that is evidently wasted in bathrooms with running water.

I couldn’t help but remember, however, about the fact we let Lady Gaga refill the Neptune Pool. (The Hearst Ranch ultimately donated the water needed.) Also she could make a sleazy video you wouldn’t want your children to see. Oops, I forgot, it’s all about the money.

On the subject of water, my longtime friend Mike Lucas has a suggestion on how to fill Atascadero Lake and keep it filled, regardless of future rain patterns.

As most everyone knows, the Nacimiento Water pipeline flows through Atascadero as it heads to points south. We get our share of that lake’s water via a pipeline which dumps thousands of gallons of fresh water 24 hours a day into the Salinas River. The water percolates down, and we pump it from the aquifer below.

So Mike suggests we route the water to Atascadero Lake. Let it bubble up there day and night, and once the lake is filled, the overflow could find its way over to Atascadero Creek and flow back to the Salinas River to continue charging our underground water source.

I might have gotten a few of the details wrong — Mike is pretty soft-spoken, and I’m not a good listener.

If we need pipe to get the water from the Salinas “pond” to Atascadero Lake there are two pipelines that run from the river near the old bridge at Curbaril Avenue — one is for crude oil and the other for jet fuel. I don’t think either is used today. Those pipes, now empty, run westward very close to Morro Road and the lake. So we could get the water moved that way. Anyone remember when one of those pipes broke and we had a pool of oil at the back entrance of the high school?

OK, OK, I’ll admit the soft sand is a better place to spill the Nacimiento water. In fact, Atascadero doesn’t even need a filtration plant for its drinking water because of the filter aspects of the river sand. In using our drinking water to fill Atascadero, there is the issue of excessive amounts of bird poop in the water.

But, hey, not every plan is perfect.

Lon Allan has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades, and his column is published weekly. Reach him at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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