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Vineyard proposes using surplus lake water 

Experiment would reduce groundwater basin pumping

J Lohr

Management team at J Lohr Vineyards: From left, Steve Lohr, Jerry Lohr, and Jeff Meier.

In a letter to local water officials, Jerry Lohr of J. Lohr Vineyard and Wines proposes to temporarily use Nacimiento Water Project reserve water as a “proof-of-concept”. The concept is to use untreated Nacimiento water in lieu of well water to offset basin pumping and meet irrigation needs.

“It’s an exciting and innovative experiment,” said Paso Robles City Manager Jim App at last week’s State of the City presentation.

“As the largest Nacimiento Project Participant, a member of the Technical Support Group, and a member of the Nacimiento Project Commission, Paso Robles applauds and supports this proposal,” App wrote in a letter of support on March 28.

Temporarily using available Nacimiento water in this manner is positive active water management, allowing both irrigators and regional water managers to directly observe the effects of in lieu deliveries, he said. It will both reduce basin pumping and allow examination of impacts on water levels. Not only was this practice envisioned in the Nacimiento Water Project delivery entitlement contracts, it addresses concerns regarding basin pumping and the needs of irrigated acreage that overlie the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, App said.

In the letter to county public works director, Paavo Orgen, Lohr says, “The severe drought conditions have motivated us at J Lohr Vineyards to proactively develop this Proof of Concept Project. We understand that Surplus Water is available from the district for sale to reserve
water customers, and we see an immediate need during this time of drought to implement temporary programs to provide recharge to the groundwater basin utilizing these surplus supplies.

“Nacimiento Water, temporarily delivered to the Estrella Subarea, will be recharged into the groundwater using the in-lieu pumping method, Nacimiento Water used to irrigate agricultural crops in-lieu of pumping groundwater to do the same. The overliers in this vicinity, and the City of Paso Robles, a participant in the Nacimiento Water Project, will all benefit from this proof of concept project.”

J Lohr proposes the following:

  • Effective Date of agreement be as soon as possible
  • Water deliveries to begin by July 1, 2014
  • Volume of surplus water delivered be 250 acre-feet per year
  • Point of delivery be at a Nacimiento Water Project station with a 3-inch valve
  • Use the water to irrigate agriculture in the Estrella Subarea of the Paso Robles groundwater Basin, east of the point of delivery.
  • Contract term of 5 years
  • Cost of water to be negotiated based on agreement

About the author: Scott Brennan

Scott Brennan is the editor and publisher of the Paso Robles Daily News.

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