Cities demand halt to Nipomo Mesa development

October 12, 2015

waterwarThe cities of Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Pismo Beach are seeking a court order barring new development and new groundwater pumping on the Nipomo Mesa. [Tribune]

The three South County cities have long been battling the Nipomo Community Services District and other water providers in the area over use of the Santa Maria groundwater basin. A legal memorandum filed by the three cities alleges Nipomo Mesa water providers have overpumped the basin, which is preventing underground recharge from reaching the northern part of the basin and is raising the risk of saltwater intrusion in wells.

Attorneys for Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Pismo Beach filed the memorandum in Santa Clara Superior Court on Sept. 29. The cities are requesting a court order prohibiting new wells, new developments and new water entitlements on the Nipomo Mesa until the overpumping ceases and more water is imported to the area.

In 2008, a judge ordered Nipomo to import 2,500 acre feet of water. The Nipomo CSD is in the process of completing a pipeline from Santa Maria that will help the community comply with the order.

The CSD recently completed the first phase of the project, but it is only expected to bring in 650 acre feet of water in the first year. The pipeline is not expected to deliver 2,500 acre feet of water until around 2025.

The cities of Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Pismo Beach allege groundwater pumping in the Nipomo area increased from 10,900 acre feet in 2005 to approximately 16,000 acre feet in 2014. The cities are also requesting that a judge order Nipomo to establish a plan to return pumping to 2005 levels.

3 putt

Watch Lynn Compton approve Laetitia. $$$$$$$$$$$


Maybe she got a great deal on one of those mansions.


Hmm. The cities are using adjudication to try and stop others from pumping? I keep hearing adjudication will protect us from the cities. Looks like millions spent on attorneys down there, and millions more to come…


Of course, NCSD and the other water pimps on the Mesa are to blame for ignoring the demands of the Mesa residents and allowing development on the Mesa to continue LONG past the time when it was reasonable to do so. The NCSD board of directors has, for years, done the bend-and-spread-’em 2-step for developers, ignoring the best interests of the residents whose water supply they are supposed to protect.

I think we can see now why NCSD’s ex-GM, Michael Lebrun, did an “exit-stage-right” maneuver when he resigned as GM. As GM, it is his job to look out for the best interests of the rate-payers….and he 100% failed at this important part of his job.

But it is the County who should take a large portion of the blame because is at fault for allowing this water grab by NCSD, and other developers’ toadies, to go on and on, without challenge, for years now. The County should have provided oversight which would have stopped this developer’s water grab, but they did not.

It is the County’s job to provide oversight for the best interests of the County’s residents, and they have sat by mutely for YEARS now as the Nipomo Mesa groundwater basin was driven, by the avarice and greed of developers and their political minions, steadily towards the collapse of the groundwater basin that underlies the Nipomo Mesa.

The really sad part of this is the folks who live on the Mesa have spent so much effort in an attempt to legally thwart the NCSD’s criminally poor stewardship of their collective groundwater basin. Even with the NCSD repeatedly attempting to thwart the will of the residents they serve, the Mesa residents continued to fight.

And now it may be too late to recover large parts of the groundwater basin which serves the Mesa and five-cities residents.

Russ J

Little late on barring new development. Woodlands isn’t even close to building out. Agriculture has pumped more water since 2005 than the combined new housing (AG=80%, residential =20%). The amount of agricultural production has overwhelmed water usage on the Mesa in recent years. There were very few productive berry fields just 15 years ago. Hey – 5 cities, you’re suing the wrong people.


In light of the water situation in North and South County and then SLO asking for more Naciemento Water when are we going to recognize the fact that we do not have enough water for all the open areas that this County wants to develop or plant. We will need additional resources (wells, dams, lakes, etc.). Do we really want to live and look like LA, San Diego or San Francisco Counties? The only reason the cities want all this development is for more tax dollars for more voters which reqvuire police, fire, water and wastewater services,, parks, and more employees, bigger budgets, more power and control over our lifes. etc, that will require more money to substain so we will build more and more unti we have lost our quality of life. Enough already! Stop this insanity…


SLOBIRD: I believe the county is mandated by the state grow at 2%, ie to take its share of the states burgeoning population.


Yes, the county is mandated to provide sustainable development, and the only areas left for development is in north and south county.

However, if there is insufficient water for sustainable growth, then clearly there is no ability for development.

If the GW basin collapses–which has probably already started–there will be water for NOBODY now, and in the future, because once an aquifer collapses (or is polluted) it cannot be used again for GW storage.


Laetitia wants to withdraw 20 to 25% more water than they are already taking for 102 homes on acre lots. As Los Berros Creek and the Oceano Hydrological Subarea are a significant source of recharge to the five cities area this will only exacerbate an already untenable situation. Many homeowners near Laetitia already have dry wells.

Jorge Estrada

The Laetitia project will be competing for road infrastructure dollars that is already overpromised. To add a greater burden on the rest of the State for a new project just won’t happen. Then again they may create an association to fun the circulation? Not!!! Could you imagine the entire state looking to create new associations to fund everything while the original tax dollars go to fund Jack Sheetz.

Jorge Estrada

Pay attention!!!!! The cities are showing their hand by attitude outside of their franchise. This has been ongoing for some time in the North County through the Paso Robles Basin Square Dance. Notice the partners and floor they are dancing on, certainly not their floor but boy can they dance on your money. I’m just waiting for them to slip and fall on their arss, thence no more dancing unless it is on their own floor. (insiders analogy)


This makes the fact that Nipomo just approved a hotel more worrisome.


NCSD–which is the agency providing the majority of development water– is not much more than a pimp for developer’s interests.

Mitch C

Pismo Beach is currently developing two new hotels and a substantial number of housing units in an environment in which they are requesting residents to curtail water usage by over 30%. Now they are requesting that Nipomo curtail ALL development. Classic “do as I say, not what I do”. Pismo needs to get its own house in order before it chastises another community. Same goes for Arroyo Grande that just approved the major develop on Grand Avenue.


Water rights were apportioned for that group years ago. NCSD has continually overdrawn its share of the water, to the point where NCSD may end up collapsing parts of the GW basin on the mesa. This means that everybody in the 5-cities will have to pay for NCSD’s avarice and greed, even though they are the ones driving the GW basin into ruin.


Especially funny that Arroyo Grande is demanding another area stop developing when they themselves continue to approve development in the city. A little hypocritical it seems.


City staff keeps reassuring residents that our water situation is not so dire that development can not continue until we reach “full build out”. Apparently all figures are based on that level, so we’ve got room to grow.

Sounds absurd!


And yet they keep telling the residents fines will come if enough is not conserved and every time the water bill comes the residents open it cautiously hoping there is not a notice about a fine inside


The State of California has invoked the water restrictions, and there was really no choice because our water supply across the state is so depleted. AG is inforcing the water restrictions, which is absolutely necessary if we are to survive this extended drought without collapse of GW basins across the state.


AG has historically remained within the limits of its alloted water in its admirable water portfolio.

The issue isn’t about water purveyors who are remaining within their legal bounds…its about one purveyor, NCSD, stealing water from the others so they can continue to serve their true customers–the developers–by providing them water that simply is not theirs to provide.