3 local school districts get $3 million in grants for water conservation

Three San Luis Obispo County school districts and the county education office will receive a total of $3.5 million in grants from the state of California to use for water conservation projects.

Atascadero Unified, Lucia Mar Unified and Paso Robles Joint Unified school districts have each been awarded nearly $1 million through California's Drought Response Outreach Program for Schools. The San Luis Obispo County Office of Education will receive $628,566 under the same program.

DROPS focuses on school projects that reduce storm water pollution and provide benefits such as water conservation, water supply augmentation, energy savings and increased water resource sustainability. Each DROPS project includes an educational component designed to increase student awareness of the project’s environmental benefits and water resource sustainability.

Atascadero's project will focus on building an underground storm water detention system at Atascadero Junior High, as well as putting in permeable pavers in the school's parking lot and adding an enhanced irrigation control system, said Stu Stoddar, the district’s director of support services.

The school has secured about $3 million for the project, including the $999,999 DROPS grant. Implementation of the detention system has already begun and is expected to be completed in early 2017.

The water conservation plan for the Lucia Mar school district has not yet been finalized, though the school board began discussion Tuesday on how it would spend its $903,933 grant. The project must be finished by March 2019.

About $374,000 could potentially go to Oceano Elementary School for bio-retention basins, permeable pavers and a rain garden; $185,000 to water-wise landscaping and permeable pavers at Harloe Elementary School; $137,000 to Ocean View Elementary for permeable pavers and asphalt removal; $119,000 at Paulding Middle School for water-wise landscaping, an erosion-control project and permeable pavers; and $89,000 to install permeable pavers and remove asphalt at Central Coast New Tech High School, according to a board staff report.

The Paso Robles school district applied for the grant in January 2015.

Schools receiving the funding in Paso Robles include Georgia Brown Elementary School ($369,000 for design and installation of drought-tolerant landscaping and stormwater retention basins); Bauer Speck Elementary ($49,000 for the installation of a rain garden); Flamson Middle School ($452,000 for the design and construction of a new parking lot, which will include low impact development and extension of an existing native garden) and Lewis Middle School ($127,000 for the design and installation of bioretention basins, permeable pavement, stormwater infiltration strip and a tree planter box).

A representative of the county office could not be reached for comment.