SLO receives $6.6 million grant to clean up contaminated groundwater

March 11, 2024


The California State Water Resources Control Board issued a $6.6 million grant for a city of San Luis Obispo project intended to clean up contaminated groundwater.

Presently, the city does not use groundwater for its drinking water supply. SLO’s potable water supply comes from Whale Rock Reservoir, Santa Margarita Lake and Nacimiento Reservoir. 

City officials have sought to diversify the water supply in an attempt to achieve “greater drought and climate change resiliency.” Previously, contamination from tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, served as a barrier to doing so. PCE is a toxic chemical produced by dry cleaning and industrial activities, which took place in the city decades ago.

The cleanup project will consist of the city building two new groundwater supply wells that are expected to be fully operation in 2026. The wells will be equipped with water treatment systems that will remove all contaminants. 

City officials are working with state and local regulators to ensure the water will exceed all drinking water standards before adding it to SLO’s potable water system.

“The new wells and treated groundwater will account for 10 to 12 percent of the city’s water supply,” SLO Water Resources Program Manager Nick Teague said in a statement. “And it will cost the city less to pump and treat the water from the new groundwater wells than it does to pump and treat water from local reservoirs.”

Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, enabled funding for the project, along with an agreement with the State Water Board. 

“This is a win-win for the people of San Luis Obispo,” Teague stated. “When this project is complete, the city’s water system will be even more resilient and will include clean and safe groundwater.”


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“remove all contaminants”? Unlikely.

So they aren’t really cleaning up the contaminated groundwater, they are putting in new wells to pump more groundwater so they can continue to sell out to developers and county officials can continue to get their kickbacks. Let’s call it what it is. Cleaning up groundwater would involve pumping the treated groundwater back in the ground.

Now the enities receiving these taxpayer funds can take previous budgeted funds for these projects and reallocate it to something more important, employee compensations, yipeeee.

Soon everything will be per a grant so that if you want it bad enough you can lobby another paper process to get funded, otherwise it is called deferred maintenance. Just how long has this been public knowledge, 20 years?

They have to do something to accommodate all the unprecedented growth here.

Or, they could, you know, build the dams higher, or more of them. But, that would be silly! Better to spend more millions of tax dollars on treating ground water, than creating more reserves.