Leaks shut down Nacimiento Pipeline
August 15, 2014
San Luis Obispo County’s $176 million pipeline project is delivering no water to participating cities and communities and may not resume operation for weeks. [Tribune]
The Nacimiento Pipeline, which delivers water to Atascadero, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and parts of Templeton, has been shut down for several weeks due to multiple leaks. The five participating cities have not received any water from the pipeline since June, in which they only acquired a fraction of their month’s supply.
During the closure, communities lose their monthly water allotments for good. They cannot collect the missing supply when the pipeline reopens.
Water officials with the participating cities say the pipeline shutdown does not signify a crisis because they have other sources of supply.
But, Nacimiento Lake represents significant portions of the various communities’ supplies. They must now rely on reservoir water and, in some cases, groundwater.
County officials began investigating Nacimiento Pipeline problems in late July expecting to find one leak. They have since found at least five leaks and have spent $134,000 on an emergency contract for the investigation.
The investigation into the leaks is expected to conclude in the next few weeks. County officials hope to temporarily patch the leaks and restore the pipeline services by the end of summer while working on a permanent fix.
The pipeline project, on which construction concluded in 2010, was touted as the solution to the various communities’ water needs. However, since the project began operating, water levels have dropped significantly at Lake Nacimiento, and it is unclear whether the pipeline will remain a reliable source of water.
Participating agencies must still pay off millions of dollars of debt they owe for the pipeline over the next few decades.
Former county public works director Paavo Ogren, who spearheaded the project, left his position with the county last month to become general manager of the troubled Oceano Community Services District.