Nipomo district OKs new water hookups as cities call for conservation

During the same meeting Wednesday, the Nipomo Community Services District approved an initial request for water service for more than 270 new homes and hotel rooms on the Nipomo Mesa – and also discussed a letter from neighboring communities concerned about the district’s approval of new water connections.

The board voted 4-0, with board Vice President Jim Harrison absent, to approve an intent-to-serve letter for water, sewer and trash service for a proposed development at Blacklake Golf Resort.

The board’s action now paves the way for resort owner Rob Rossi to submit an application to San Luis Obispo County for a project he hopes will attract more visitors to Blacklake. It’s not clear how quickly that process could move forward, Rossi said Thursday. In an earlier interview, he said he hoped to start construction sometime in 2016.

The proposal includes about 96 single-family bungalows, 119 hotel units, 11 timeshare units and 52 retirement village units.

Water demand for the project would be offset by plans to rip up 30 to 40 acres of irrigated turf, improve the existing irrigation system, and additional use of treated wastewater on the golf course.

Rossi also plans to buy supplemental water from the Nipomo district to serve the new homes.

The new homes and hotel units need about 32 acre feet of water a year, an analysis prepared for Rossi shows (an acre foot equals about 326,000 gallons).

But the project would save more than 100 acre feet of water a year by a reduction in irrigated turf and additional waste water recharge from the new development.

Some Blacklake residents have complained about the project’s water use and a possible impact on property values if some of the golf course is removed.

Rossi said in an email that “we’re also working simultaneously with our Blacklake neighbors to address issues and refine the project’s layout.”

In an interview in August, he said the project “conserves water, imports water and has a water-positive outcome.”

Rossi bought Blacklake resort in 2001. The owner is Blacklake LLC, and the investors are family members, Rossi said.

Letter from cities

The board also discussed a letter sent Oct. 1 to the Nipomo district from the city managers of Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Pismo Beach.

The letter asked the district and other water purveyors on the Mesa to stop approving new water connections, deliver a new source of water to the Mesa, and provide better public education programs.

Nipomo district general manager Michael LeBrun responded Oct. 13, writing that the district has conducted extensive public outreach and reduced its groundwater pumping.

The district is also progressing with its $17.5 million project to build a pipeline and buy water from Santa Maria, with water deliveries scheduled to start next July.

On Wednesday, the district board directed LeBrun to bring together officials from the three South County cities, as well as county Supervisor Caren Ray, to discuss regional solutions for additional water resources.

Ideas could include desalination or use of treated wastewater for irrigation or percolation back into the groundwater basin.

Recycling wastewater

Currently, about 3.2 million to 3.3 million gallons of treated wastewater from Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Oceano and Pismo Beach is dumped into the ocean each day.

The Nipomo district already puts treated wastewater from one of its sewer plants back into the groundwater basin through disposal basins next to the plant.

Pismo Beach is pursuing a recycled water facilities plan, Public Works Director Ben Fine said. A draft report on different options and costs will be available in December, with a public workshop scheduled for Dec. 15.

The South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District, which serves Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Oceano, is also studying a number of upgrade options for its wastewater treatment plant, district Superintendent John Clemons said.

“The next thing to do would be a rate study to determine what the district would be willing to do that wouldn’t be too costly to the ratepayers at one time,” he said.