San Luis Obispo County’s allocation of water from the Nacimiento Water Project is getting maxed out.
All five of the current users of Nacimiento water, plus two new users, have applied to purchase the remaining 6,095 acre-feet of unallocated water. The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors will formally decide in March whether to sell those final allocations.
Mark Hutchinson, deputy director of county public works, said the various entities are interested in buying the water because of concerns about the drought and a desire to increase their allocations before any other entities could buy them.
On Tuesday, Supervisor Frank Mecham agreed, saying full allocation is a good way for water purveyors to get their supplies nailed down.
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“I’ve been pushing for full allocation for about 10 years now,” Mecham said.
Since 2011, the 45-mile-long Lake Nacimiento pipeline has been delivering water as far south as San Luis Obispo.
Paso Robles, Atascadero Mutual Water Co., Templeton Community Services District and the county service area in Cayucos currently take 9,655 acre-feet of the county’s full allocation of the 15,750 acre-feet.
An acre-foot of water is enough to cover an acre with a foot of water. It’s a commonly used measurement in large-scale water projects and is equivalent to 325,851 gallons of water, enough to serve three households for a year.
In October, all of those water purveyors except the Cayucos district, which is managed by the county, notified the county that they want to increase their annual allocation. On Tuesday, county supervisors voted to increase the Cayucos allocation to 40 acre-feet, from 25.
“I look at this as a very affordable drought buffer for Cayucos,” said Supervisor Bruce Gibson, whose district includes Cayucos.
Two new water purveyors have also applied for allocations. They are the Santa Margarita Ranch Mutual Water Co. and the Bella Vista mobile home park in Cayucos.
The Santa Margarita Ranch water company has applied for 104 acre-feet, which would be the main water supply for the proposed 111-home housing development on Santa Margarita Ranch.
The Bella Vista mobile home park is an 84-unit mobile home park at the north end of Cayucos that has applied for 12 acre-feet. It is eligible to receive Lake Nacimiento water because it is registered with the county as a water company, said Hutchinson of county public works.
“They have been their own water company for decades now,” he said.
Built in 1959, Lake Nacimiento has a storage capacity of 377,900 acre-feet. In addition to providing water for San Luis Obispo County, the reservoir also provides flood protection, recreational opportunities and groundwater recharge for the Salinas Valley.
Where Nacimiento Lake’s water goes
Proposed annual allotments of surplus Nacimiento water in acre-feet
City of Paso Robles
City of San Luis Obispo
Atascadero Mutual Water Co.
Templeton Community Services District
Santa Margarita Ranch Mutual Water Co.
County Service Area 10A Cayucos
Bella Vista mobile home park Cayucos
Source: San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Works