Employee in blue sits in front a body of water and a downhill pipeline
Inspection of intake valve for Nacimiento Water Project

State Restrictions Lifted from Nacimiento Water Project

Author: Public Works
Date: 4/7/2023 2:19 PM

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY – A new order from the California State Water Board gives Nacimiento Water participants – including the City of Paso Robles, Templeton Community Services District, Atascadero Mutual Water Company, and the City of San Luis Obispo – freedom to decide how to use their water within San Luis Obispo county without violating state restrictions.

Since the 1950s, state permitting limited the County of San Luis Obispo to applying Nacimiento water to up to 7,000 acres of urban and suburban land and 500 acres of agricultural land. That put the County in a tough spot, because the combined usage by Nacimiento participants consistently exceeded those allotments. Further complicating the issue was the fact that Monterey County officially holds the permit, and any fix would require Monterey County to submit the request to the State Water Board.

“This new order from the State Water Board is a monumental day for water resources in San Luis Obispo county and the culmination of years of hard work,” said Public Works Director John Diodati. “I would like to thank Monterey County for considering the unique issues in our county and working with us as a collaborative partner, and the State Water Board for understanding how beneficial this change would be to the water agencies in San Luis Obispo, particularly the Paso Robles groundwater basin. I look forward to seeing how water agencies use this opportunity to balance the basin and enhance both the residential and economic needs in our county.”

Lifting the acreage restrictions and changing the permit to being able to use the water anywhere in San Luis Obispo county allows the Nacimiento participants to now better utilize their water by selling what they don’t intend to use on an annual basis. It can be sold to agricultural interests to help with the county’s over-drafted groundwater basins that have to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

“Lake Nacimiento is one of few supplemental water sources available to water agencies within SLO County and maximizing its beneficial use is an important step to improving water availability within the county and management of available water resources,” said Kirk Gonzalez, Paso Robles City Water Resources Manager. “We greatly appreciate the County’s efforts and coordination with Monterey County to make these corrections.”

The Nacimiento Water Project began operations in 2011 after the construction of the $176 million, 45-mile pipeline from Lake Nacimiento to San Luis Obispo was completed. Today, SLO County Public Works staff oversee the operations and management of the pipeline.

For more information on the Nacimiento Water Project, click here.