Nipomo will "almost certainly" choose seawater desalination as the best option for resolving its water shortage, Nipomo Community Services District General Manager Bruce Buel told the SLO County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 16.
The service district's consultant, Boyle Engineering, has looked at three possible locations for an $80 million desal plant with water intake pipes below the ocean floor. A desal plant could provide the 6,300 acre-feet of water a year that Nipomo needs, Buel said.
"There are considerable challenges, but the ocean represents the only long-term, sustainable alternative," said Michael Winn, president of the service district, who added that the board of directors unanimously supports the idea so far. A final decision by the service district board is due Dec. 12.
Meanwhile, supervisors approved a new ordinance for Nipomo that will require water-conserving landscaping, and low-flow showers and toilets when homes are sold or remodeled.
The supervisors directed county staff to recommend a water fee for new development to help pay for a desal plant. But Supervisor Bruce Gibson asked county staff to work on a program to "equitably spread" the costs, noting: "We don't want to have to build ourselves out of this problem."
The board also discussed the idea of a moratorium on new development in Nipomo, but rejected that idea.