Like Paso Robles, Los Osos had it's own little come to Jesus meeting last night at the Community Center when Rob Miller presented to the LOCSD a power point presentation of the draft plan hammered out for years by the ISJ working group, the major water purveyors -- CSD, Golden West, S&T, the county, etc.
The 300+ page draft outlines the ISJ's agreements, goals, some of which include: Halt seawater intrusion, provide a sustainable water yield and conservation goals. Also included are ongoing updated hydrological assessments, the creation of a water data base for future plans. It also looks ahead for ag use and issues arising from rising seas and global temperature changes since less rainfall will have a profound impact on water availability.
Right now, municipal water users are metered, the private well yields are estimated as are ag wells. Private well metering and reporting is encouraged, but as I learned at Tuesday's BOS hearing on Paso Robles, wells and well water is private property and the amounts pumped are subject to often arcane laws. Which means, in Los Osos, as in Paso, well owners are free to pump whatever water they want without paying into the whole system, so costs to pay for water improvement (availability and quality) enjoyed by well owners will be paid by for by "urban" users. That includes ag use. And, as in Paso, any effort to change that would involve a complex effort to create some kind of mechanism that would bring well users into the shared system.
While "urban" water use has declined about 40% , the challenge here is to reduce that amount even further while using various strategies to increase yield so as to first reach stasis -- one cup out, one cup returned -- then to decrease use and increase return so as to begin to improve the basin and push salt water intrusion back.
Maximizing yield is planned by a variety of measures, both by the purveyors and by the public, including increased conservation efforts, retrofits, reduced development, moving wells from west to east, better measures to capture and retain rainwater and run-off, greywater use, community-wide xerescaping, expanded purple piping, water-banking using decommissioned septics and etc.
(A side note: If the plan is serious about counting on greater conservation plans, somebody better come up with better ways of doing it than the supposedly ongoing County's retrofit plans. That program seemed to reverse the carrot and stick idea: If you retrofitted your house early, to be a good citizen and save water long before you had to, you got zero rebate. If you continued to waste water with old toilets, and washing machines and you waited until the last minute then called the County, you got "rebates." Duh? According to public comments, that program apparently is barely moving ahead, with complaints that records show that only 12 toilets have been logged on as given "rebates?" If true, that program certainly could stand improvement, especially since ratepayers have already coughed up $5 mil for it and aren't going to be too happy to see so little bang for their buck, methinks.)
The plans offered in the draft run from least expensive to more expensive and will depend on what the community wants to do about staying in a moritorium or go to full build out, or aim for something inbetween. The choices also depend on whether the yield targets are met. They run from the simple--move wells, increase conservation, recharge from the sewer treatment plant, the plan most likely to be chosen first -- all the way to importing water from somewhere else.
The draft comment period will close in early October. Written comments can be sent to the CSD. The next step will be to go back to the judge, get the draft a stipulated judgement as quickly as possible, then move head.
Bottom line on all this: Mo' money.
Oddity of the night, an issue that also came up during the Paso hearings: Why are the sewer pipe contractors dumping gazillions of fresh water into the bay -- in the middle of a drought, in the face of a distressed aquifer in desperate need of recharging, not emptying? The water in question is the water from dewatering while the pipes are being laid. Who's in charge of such a foolish thing and how can it be stopped?
That question was asked while Paavo Ogren was sitting 4' away from the speaker. He said not a word. Eventually, the answer turned out to be this: The contractors are responsible for water dumping and, apparently, are allowed to continue dumping if that's more convenient (and less costly for them), rather than pump, pipe or truck that water onto land where at least it could get back down into the aquifer, and NOBODY can/will say otherwise. The astonished and outraged citizen even asking that question is met with a blank stare and a helpless shrug. Oh, well. Though the Regional Water Quality Control Board has written one of their "harumph" letters expressing concern that this is going on. A "harumph" letter and public questions and silence from the County means that water dumping -- a figure of 50 acre feet a day has been bandied about -- will continue unabated.
The insane, deliberately allowed loss of a vital community resource is typical of the kind of thing that has made the Hideous Sewer Project such a looneytune. And the blank-faced silence and indifferent shrugs from folks in charge of this project in the face of such idiocy is what has made the Hideous Sewer Project so crazy-making to so many concerned citizens.
I mean, really, dumping gazillions of gallons of water in the middle of a drought? Now, what movie does that remind me of . . . oh, yes, "Chinatown."