LAKE NACIMIENTO LAKE LEVELS AND STORM UPDATE
Fill ‘er up!
The following article was posted on October 21st, 2009, in the New Times – Volume 24, Issue 12 By Kathy Johnston
From drought to deluge, Lake Nacimiento relies on rain
Where there once was deep, shimmering water, Lake Nacimiento’s expansive stretches of dry sand and gravel started making people nervous in the past few months. Before the heavy rainstorm of Oct. 13 and 14, the reservoir was officially considered more than 90 percent empty, even as construction proceeded on the new pipeline designed to carry Nacimiento water to household faucets all over SLO County.
The dragon-shaped lake whose very name means “birth” in Spanish was reborn—at least a little—thanks to the unseasonal deluge. Records from Monterey County show the official lake level rose by more than 20 feet, increasing from 9 percent to 19 percent full overnight.
Monterey County owns the dam it built in the rugged watershed northwest of Paso Robles more than 50 years ago, and it also owns nearly 95 percent of the water Lake Nacimiento contains when full. That water is released from a pipe near the bottom of the dam nearly every day, flowing into the Salinas River where it recharges groundwater in the agricultural valley. SLO County is entitled to 5 percent of the lake’s capacity, or 17,500 acre-feet.
If it hadn’t started raining, Monterey County would have had to stop releasing the lake’s water on Oct. 20 to save what was left for SLO County, according to Courtney Howard, a water engineer with SLO County’s Public Works Department.
Although members of SLO County’s Water Resources Advisory Committee—and lakeshore homeowners—were becoming concerned about the low lake levels and continuing drought, Nacimiento Water Project Director John Hollenbeck said there was no real cause for alarm.
“There’s never been a year when Nacimiento Lake was almost empty and there was no rain. The reservoir is doing exactly as it was designed to do. It’s been dry—empty—five times, and it’s been brim full even more times,” Hollenbeck said.
San Luis Obispo and North County communities are planning to start using Nacimiento water as early as next summer as a “supplemental” source, according to Hollenbeck. The environmental impact statement for the project stated that the Nacimiento Water Project will “remove an obstacle to growth and lead to increased growth in San Luis Obispo County communities and cities.
”Private water companies around the county have also requested the water, according to the environmental report, and would then be able to “change land use to accommodate residential projects.
”Decision-makers in Cayucos have already eliminated the coastal community’s “water supply emergency,” and have started allocating their share of Nacimiento water to vacant parcels in the southern part of the town.
Posted: Monday, Oct 5th, 2009 By: Josh Petray
Nacimiento Water Project Ahead of Schedule
Construction work on the $176 million Nacimiento Water Project is ahead of schedule.
According to Nacimiento Project Manager John Hollenbeck, county officials and the project team originally estimated work to be complete in December 2010. Hollenbeck said the project would instead wrap up around July or August 2010.
Hollenbeck said that recognizing the unfortunate situation regarding two tragic accidents that caused the death of two construction workers, was pleased with the construction progress made so far on the project.
“That weighs heavily on everybody’s minds, mine, too, and it is an unfortunate thing,” he said of the accidents. “We have had some very disappointing things, the deaths of the men to date is hugely tragic; it’s a spirit killer. But this also points to this business being very dangerous.”
According to Hollenbeck, the schedule was not so tight that it would be unreachable but said officials laid out a timeline that was both fleible and reachable.
“I’m pleased with the pace things have been moving,” Hollenbeck said. “It’s ahead of schedule – that’s unusual – we managed to get this [project] at a time when folks were looking for jobs, and we got a good contract. In fact, we just completed the central portion and certified that. I’m happy that [the project] is on its way, now we just need some rain to fill up [Lake Nacimiento].
”Whitaker Contractors, Inc., the contractor on the Pipeline Central, earned an estimated $50,000 as part of an incentive provision included in its contract for finishing early, Hollenbeck said. Whether the four remaining “specs” of the project–including the intake, facilities and water storage tanks, Pipeline North and Pipeline South–will earn extra funds through the incentive program for finishing early is yet to be determined.
“Whitaker was extremely well organized and planned the job well, resulting in their completion ahead of schedule,” said Hollenbeck. “It is a great feeling as we start to see parts of this large project being completed.”
According to Hollenbeck, delivery of the Nacimiento water is expected as planned in mid-2010.
Hollenbeck said county officials are working with the participants to see when they would like water delivery. None of the project participants are mandated to have the water delivered at a certain time, he said. As the projects near completion, Hollenbeck officials would contact the participants to see when they want the delivery and how much water they would like delivered under their agreements. Hollenbeck said he recently sent out a request to Atascadero, which provided input indicating it would be taking its full 2,000 acre-feet of water over a period of four months beginning in June 2011, or roughly 500 acre-feet for four months. Hollenbeck said he hadn’t heard back from the other participants on when and how much water they wanted delivered as of press time.
Hollenbeck said the only thing on the critical path that would extend the project beyond the longest point would be delivery of the pumping equipment at the intake.
According to Hollenbeck, the project is within its $176 million with an estimated $132 expended thus far. Yes.
“My guess is it will come in under budget but I’m still too far out in time to know that,” Hollenbeck said.
JOIN US FOR OAK SHORES HALLOWEEN PARTY!
Saturday October 31st 2009
* Social Hour 6- 7pm
* Dinner 7pm
* Dancing 8-11pm **Adults 18 and older**
Wear a costume and bring 2-4 canned food donations and enjoy a lasagna, salad, and bread dinner FREE!! or No costume, no cans, $10.00 entry.
PLEASE…PLEASE… RSVP by Oct. 28th to Rusty at 472-2717
Please no outside drinks – support our bar!
* Water & Soda 1.00
* Beer & Wine 2.00
* Mixed Drinks 3.00
Prizes for best costumes!!
This event is being sponsored by your Recreation Fund!
Live Music is provided by R.I.P! (Ruckus!)