We raise a brimming glass of — what else? — cold, crystal clear water to the leaders of the Nipomo Community Services District, who will gather today to celebrate the start of a pipeline project that will move water from the city of Santa Maria to Nipomo.
This is a significant milestone for a project that should pull Nipomo back from the brink of a water crisis.
While South County water issues aren’t as severe as those affecting the Paso Robles groundwater basin, if nothing is done it could be just a matter of time.
Consider the similarities: Nipomo relies on a groundwater basin that has been showing signs of stress, including pumping depressions and recently, reports of wells dr ying up. Also, aquifer levels were 30 percent lower this past spring than in 2012, and at their lowest since record keeping began in 1975.
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The Nipomo Community Services District began working on the problem years ago, by enacting water conservation plans, limiting the number of new water connections allowed and looking for supplemental water projects.
The district negotiated the purchase of up to 3,000 acre-feet of water from the city of Santa Maria, but property owners turned down a $26 million tax measure that would have financed a pipeline. Opponents insisted that other methods — such as desalination — would be less expensive and more productive.
We believe the Nipomo Community Services District got it right; the Santa Maria pipeline is the surest and least costly way to increase the water supply.
In fact, acommittee that was appointed to study supplemental water alternatives following the failed tax election came to that same conclusion: The pipeline topped the list of supplemental water alternatives.
In order to proceed with the pipeline project, the district decided to break the project into phases and finance the first $17 million phase through a combination of aloan, grant funding and reserves.
Again, we applaud the district’s leadership. It could have wasted many more years studying the various alternatives and attempting to win over voters. All the while, the basin would have continued to suffer.
We believe the pipeline is the surest, least expensive and most expeditious way to bring in water to balance the basin.
The district has good reason to celebrate.
A river-crossing celebration begins this morning at 10 to mark the progress of the Santa Maria-to-Nipomo water pipeline project. The ceremony will be on North Blosser Road in Santa Maria, at the Santa Maria River levee.