Crews installing underground cable wires north of Paso Robles on Tuesday drilled a hole in a Nacimiento Water Project pipeline, spilling more than 1 million gallons of water.
A subcontractor drilling a hole for Charter-Spectrum on Monterey Road, near the intersection of Wellsona Road and Highway 101, hit the 3-foot pipe around 1 p.m. and created a 3-inch hole, said Mark Hutchinson, deputy director of San Luis Obispo County's Public Works Department.
The crews notified county staff immediately, and they were able to shut off the water remotely. Even so, about 4 acre-feet of water, or 1.2 million gallons, spilled out of the hole, Hutchinson said.
Crews had to wait for water to drain before pumping out mud and debris that had gotten into the pipe, which is located 7 feet below ground, he said. Workers then patched the pipe and began repairing the roadway.
The pipeline was delivering water to San Luis Obispo when it was ruptured, Hutchinson said. After it was shut off, the city began pumping water from Whale Rock Reservoir near Cayucos until repairs were completed about 9 a.m. Thursday.
Repairs to the road were expected to be completed Friday, Hutchinson said.
He estimated the entire incident cost about $100,000 to fix. The county and the company still need to work out how much each party will pay, Hutchinson said.
The Nacimiento Water Project has been delivering Lake Nacimiento water to customers throughout the county since 2011. A decades-old agreement with Monterey County gives San Luis Obispo County rights to 17,500 acre-feet of water per year.
The county rarely uses all of its water, so Hutchinson said the 4 acre-feet that was spilled shouldn't have too much of an impact.
"It's not going to affect the total allocation," he said.