Long-stalled homes set to rise

Homeowners and builders who have waited up to 22 years to use domestic water for new building projects in Templeton are expected to finally get their chance in 2011 when the Nacimiento Water Project comes online.

“People couldn’t build in Templeton until it got water,” Templeton Community Services District General Manager Jeff Hodge said. “These people have been waiting forever to exercise their rights to build on their properties.”

The waiting list goes back to 1989.

Other building projects have sprung up “due to parties dedicating groundwater wells to the district or utilizing their riparian water rights,” Hodge said.

Officials originally planned to take the 250-acre-feet annual share during May though September, Hodge said, but the board will ultimately decide. The 45-mile, $176 million Nacimiento pipeline will carry millions of gallons of drinking water from Nacimiento Lake to Paso Robles, Atascadero, Templeton, San Luis Obispo and parts of Cayucos. Pipeline construction wrapped up this fall, and the system is in the final testing stages.

The district’s unincorporated community of roughly 7,500 people has about 1,500 people on the waiting list. They are now being notified, Hodge said.

Templeton plans to pay for its new water through the sale of new water meters — and those on the list have the first pick. Existing customers have also paid about $1 million toward Nacimiento water.

New meters cost about $25,000 for a single-family home, Hodge said. Meter and rate increases could come before the board in the future, he added.

Templeton’s annual debt payment is about $224,000, including interest, for a 30-year bond.

District staff are finalizing ways to make the lake water drinkable. Preliminary options range from filtering the water into the Salinas River underflow, building a treatment plant or treating it in Atascadero.

The percolation option calls for the water to be discharged into the district’s existing percolation ponds, join the river underflow and be retrieved at a well downstream. But the ponds need work regarding capacity and soils at a cost of up to $2.5 million.

Another option is to build a water treatment facility at a preliminary estimate of $2 million.

A third option is to trade raw water with Atascadero Mutual Water Co. in exchange for an equal amount of treated water for a fee.

Associated infrastructure costs for the trade have not yet been established, Hodge said, but are expected to be up to $1.5 million plus Atascadero’s service fee.

The district could pay for any of the treatment options with money it has saved, Hodge said, but would do so only if the board approves a plan to replenish those savings. Potential options for that are now in the works.