Both the Tribune and Santa Maria Times report that the Nipomo Community Services District (NCSD) board plans to move forward with the Nipomo water pipeline, at least for now. Earlier this week the Santa Maria Times reported that the pipeline costs had skyrocketed to over $24 million. On Wednesday 11/8/06 the NCSD board further discussed the pipeline after their engineering company provided them with an updated report.
From today’s Tribune:
Nipomo’s services district will still pursue a pipeline that would bring the town water from Santa Maria, but it’ll also look at alternatives after this week’s discovery that the project could cost $26 million.
That price tag is three times more than the $7.5 million to $9 million estimates from earlier this year.
The new cost was part of a report presented to the Nipomo Community Services District board Wednesday . . .
A judge has also called for the district to import 2,500 acre-feet a year to supplement the groundwater supply. That’s enough to supply several thousand homes.
In 2004, the district decided its best option would be to buy water from Santa Maria. Agency officials expected initially to import about 3,000 acre-feet a year. Design work is about 5 percent to 10 percent complete.
After Wednesday’s presentation showing that routes could cost between $24 million and $26 million, board President Larry Vierheilig said he’d like the district to explore a desalination plant and possible tie-ins to the state water or proposed Nacimiento Lake pipelines.
I personally think the board’s decision to continue studying the pipeline is wise. Even though the costs have tripled, Nipomo needs to secure it’s water future. I’m not so sure the Nacimiento pipeline would be a good option. That project involves building a 45 mile pipeline in north county, and currently involves a projected $150 million. It’s hard to believe how extending that pipeline all the way to Nipomo is going to be more cost effective than building a much shorter 10 or 12 mile pipeline from our next door neighbors in Santa Maria. I do think a desalination plan to be an excellent option.
The Santa Maria Times noted:
Reeling from the news that estimates have now exceeded $24 million, the Nipomo Community Services District board reviewed Wednesday the latest engineering report on its proposed pipeline project.
For the past five years the NCSD board has been investigating the feasibility of building a pipeline from Santa Maria to Nipomo to pump water into the community, where growth has long been restrained by lack of water.
During a three-hour report, the directors slogged through updates on every aspect of the project, ranging from necessary permits to pipeline size, before getting to the crux of the issue – whether the new price is prohibitive.
“This has shock waves that go down the line,” said Director Mike Winn.
Officials originally estimated the pipeline would cost $6 million to install . . .
Estimates were derived for three different pipeline routes with costs ranging from $24.4 million to $26.7 million, all of which are in 2006 dollars, said Mike Nunley of Boyle Engineering, the company that is doing the pre-design work on the project.
However, they all include a 30-percent contingency rate that can absorb some inflation, he added.
The directors did not delve into a full discussion of how they could pay for the project, but are scheduled to talk about it more 10 a.m. Dec. 6 at the NCSD office, 148 S. Wilson St.
Note the workshop date above. It should be an interesting meeting. The Times also reported how increased costs aren’t the only obstacle to the Nipomo water pipeline:
Money isn’t the only hurdle that the pipeline project must clear before it can move forward. Since there are several endangered animals and plants in the construction area, near the Santa Maria River, numerous agencies will have to certify the plans.
Early studies have shown evidence that California red-legged frog, steelhead trout and California Coast horned lizard are among the endangered species that live in the area.
Therefore, permits have to be obtained from the Regional Water Quality Control Board, Caltrans, both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, Santa Maria and the Air Pollution Control District.
Now, I’m all for being kind to animals and being a responsible co inhabitant with our animal friends in the eco-sphere; however, these can’t possibly be serious concerns for such a critical project. If a few red legged frogs, some horned lizards, and a few fish are displaced or perish for the pipeline, then so be it. We can’t endanger the economic or physical well being of an entire community to please environmental extremists. Let’s keep our eye on the ball here folks.
You can read a portion of the very lengthy engineering report that outlines the projected pipeline costs here: Projected Pipeline Costs