Paso Robles water future is bright
By Paso Robles Public Works Director Dick McKinley
–The City of Paso Robles, and our partners in the Lake Nacimiento water project, are in the final stages of completing the “full subscription” process. This is a very important step in realizing the full value of the investment in this major water supply. Currently, Paso Robles partners with the City of San Luis Obispo, Templeton CSD, Atascadero Mutual Water Company, and CSA 10a (Cayucos via SLO County) on this water project. As part of the full subscription action, two new partners are joining. The Bella Vista Mobile Home Park and the Santa Margarita Mutual Water Company were originally part of the project planning, were included in the original environmental analysis, and are now becoming official partners.
Bella Vista will be using 10 acre feet per year, and the Santa Margarita Mutual Water Company will be using 80 acre feet per year. An acre foot is a formula used to measure large quantities of water, and represent one acre of area with water one foot deep, or about 325,800 gallons of water.
The City of Paso Robles currently has an allocation of 4,000 acre feet per year, and will increase that allocation to 6,488 acre feet per year with full subscription. That will provide a supply that averages about 5.8 million gallons of water per day. An additional benefit of full subscription is that if there is surplus water available (which would happen if the partners didn’t use their full allocation) then that surplus water could be sold to other parties, including for irrigation or possible infiltration into the Paso Robles Basin aquifer.
Paso Robles currently has three water supplies – most cities have one or two – which includes our deep aquifer wells, our Salinas River underflow wells, and the Lake Nacimiento water. The city is currently working on the design for our fourth supply – recycled water from the new wastewater treatment plant. When the City adds the tertiary treatment the wastewater output from the plant can be used for irrigation of parks, golf courses and agriculture.
The recycled water will meet all health standards for everything except drinking. Having the fourth supply could help reduce well pumping from agriculture and recreation users, and help the Paso Robles Basin aquifer to be more sustainable. Currently, more water is pumped from the aquifer than is naturally replenished each year. Recently, the basin was declared to be in critical overdraft. With four water supplies, the City of Paso Robles will be well situated for the future, and will be able to meet our forecasted growth projections, as well as be a solid regional player in helping to address the overdraft of the basin.