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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on June 19th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 15 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 15

Bonds and basin levels

BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

A dry spring led to lower-than-usual water basin levels within the Nipomo Community Services District, pushing officials to move quickly on the $17.5 million water pipeline project, which starts with the sale of $10.5 million worth of bonds.

Not that low water basin levels on the Mesa are anything new for the district, said NCSD General Manager Michael LeBrun. It’s something that was somewhat expected.

“Our demands on the basin have gone up considerably over the last three decades because we’ve urbanized the Mesa,” LeBrun said. “What we’ve noticed is the basin drops faster than it used to and recovers slower.”

The basin measurements under NCSD’s wells are 25 percent lower than they were in 2012. LeBrun said the district is asking Mesa residents to use water wisely, especially when irrigating landscapes.

At the June 12 board meeting, groundwater expert Brad Newton told the board he was concerned for the health of the groundwater. He told the board that conditions could allow ocean water to move inland and potentially contaminate the aquifer. LeBrun said the concern over seawater contamination has been an issue at the top of the list for the last few years, which is why the district needs to get the pipeline finished as fast as possible.

At the meeting, the board also authorized the sale of $10.5 million worth of bonds, which would finance $9 million of the Santa Maria-to-Nipomo pipeline project. LeBrun said he is confident the district will be able to sell all the bonds within a week of opening the sale that started on June 17.

“We’re well positioned to sell these bonds,” LeBrun said. “We have an ‘A’ rating.”

The district received that investment rating from Standard and Poor just before the June 12 board meeting. Once the bonds are sold, the district can begin construction of the pipeline.

The $17.5 million project’s financing plan was approved in April. Soon after, the district faced a lawsuit from the Mesa Community Alliance, which sought to halt the proposal because of a decision to pull $4 million out of a reserve fund earmarked for repair work. In May, an alternative-funding plan was approved to sell an extra $4 million in bonds.

The project will also be paid for with a $2.2 million grant from the state and $6.3 million from district reserves.

The water pipeline would bring 600 to 950 acre-feet of municipal water—part aquifer water, part state water—from Santa Maria to Nipomo. It would be the first installment of a much larger and more expensive project that would eventually bring 2,500 acre-feet of water to Nipomo.