The Santa Maria Times (by the way, where is the Tribune on this?) reports this morning that the pipeline The Nipomo Community Services District is considering to transport supplemental water from Santa Maria to Nipomo has skyrocketed to some $24 million.
The price tag for constructing a pipeline to carry supplemental water from Santa Maria to Nipomo has skyrocketed past the $24 million mark – about four times the original estimate – according to a report released Monday.
The Nipomo Community Services District (NCSD) board of directors will now have to decide whether to pursue the project and develop new funding scenarios, or search for other supplemental water alternatives, such as the construction of a desalination plant.
“This is more than we anticipated and it’s discouraging,” said NCSD director Cliff Trotter.
The project was originally estimated to cost about $6 million, with work slated to begin as soon as next year, but that timeline may be pushed back significantly with the new estimate, said director Ed Eby.
Nipomo has struggled to find ways to grow as a community, because there aren’t any large water sources in the area capable of supporting new residential and commercial projects.
This new price tag is unbelievable. I’m not sure all the reasons for such a price jump; but, I think we need some perspective about the pipeline given the new costs. I also think we need to ask the questions about why there has been such an increase. Cliff Trotter, one of the NCSD directors hinted at a possible reason:
Trotter said most of the increase is due to the fact that “we have to pick up the water further south into Santa Maria than we thought and we have to discharge into the Nipomo system further north than we thought.”
After reviewing the report, the committee recommended that the board “pursue the project but not establish a definite date on completion,” Trotter said.
“The purpose right now is to learn more about what’s going on,” he said. “You don’t write it off.”
From what I understand Santa Maria is to blame for the requirement that the NCSD pick up the water further into Santa Maria; but, if that’s a deal breaker, then Santa Maria may want to consider their position, or risk the loss of the water sale. But, Cliff is right. We need to learn more about what is going on and not yet write it off; but, if these costs turn out to be realistic then some hard decisions need to be made.
So far the NCSD board has figured out how to finance about $8 million for the pipeline; but, just where the remaining $16 million will come from is anyone’s guess. Given these figures, Mike Winn, another NCSD director points out that Nipomo may be better off looking into a desalination plant:
Upon hearing the new estimate, director Mike Winn said he thought it would make more sense to pursue a desalination plant.
“The pipeline was supposed to be a mid-range or intermediate solution,” Winn said. “We’ve known all along that the only drought-proof water available to us is from the ocean.”
The NCSD board will review the report when it meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday at 148 S. Wilson St.
I think desalination is Nipomo’s only real long term solution. If in fact the costs for the pipeline pencil out to the $24 million currently being discussed, that may be $24 million better spent toward that desalination plant. If you have an opinion, show up tomorrow 11/8/06 at the NCSD Meeting 9:00 a.m. located at 148 W. Wilson Street, Nipomo.
For further information about the NCSD Pipeline project see here. I am looking for a copy of this report online and will post a link once I find it. Finally, take a look at the Cambria Community Services District website. They have already embarked on the desalination plant research and planning. We can and should learn from their experience. Desalination is our only viable long term water solution here in Nipomo, and likely on the Central Coast. Perhaps other nearby communities would be interested in sharing the expense and benefits of this endeavor.