LOCSD to Study Connection with S&T

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

June 29, 2023

One of the water purveyors in Los Osos is hoping to further connect with the main supplier by buying-in on a new drinking water well being constructed now across town.

Los Osos Community Services Director, General Manager Ron Munds said his Board voted in concept to work on an agreement between the CSD and S&T Mutual water company that would allow them to invest in the CSD’s Program C Well located at Bay Oaks Drive and South Bay Boulevard.

That well has been drilled and work is underway for the connecting pipeline that will connect the water with the CSD’s distribution system some 3,200 feet away.

The pipeline will have to run from the wellhead to a connection point on Nipomo Avenue at Mountain View Drive. The pipeline portion is under contract with Hartzell General Engineering Contractor, which was awarded last March for $861,677.

The overall project was budgeted at $2.6 million and was broken up into three parts — design/drilling of the well, the pipeline transmission connection, and the well equipping design work that will connect up the other two.

“We are almost finished with the well equipping design phase,” Munds told Estero Bay News, “which should go to the Board on July 6.”

The Program C well will be the first new well the CSD has drilled in many years and is part of a Basin Plan amongst the water suppliers that resulted form a court settlement to better manage the groundwater basin, which is Los Osos’ sole source of drinking water.

That groundwater basin has been in severe overdraft for nearly 20 years and has been infiltrated in some areas by seawater. The Basin Plan is supposed to move well production away from the area around Palisades Avenue where the seawater intrusion has been detected.

S&T Mutual which is comprised of homeowners in the Sunset Terrace neighborhood, has been getting CSD water for some time and lobbied the CSD to let it share in the Program C well’s bounty, as the well it currently has is suffering from rising nitrate levels in the water.

Back in 2022 S&T Mutual asked to set up an emergency connection to the CSD’s system and that December, the CSD Board approved the emergency hook up. 

“S&T is looking for water supply redundancy because of the elevated nitrates in their only well and the uncertainties of water supply in the future,” reads a report from Munds.

“Nitrates” is practically a 4-letter word in Los Osos, as the naturally occurring element found in the soil and groundwater led to the eventual building of a community sewer system on the orders of the Regional Water Quality Control Board, in a pitched battle that lasted over 30 years. Nitrates have been linked to “Blue Baby Syndrome” (indicating low oxygen levels) and was the main driving force for the $183 million sewer project.

Munds said S&T had been looking for grant funding to help pay for the emergency tie-in and now wants to go further.

“It is very conceptual at this point,” Munds told EBN, “with many details to work out including cost of the buy in, wheeling charges to move the water to S&T’s point of connection to our system and operation and maintenance costs.”

He’s not sure when a contract would be ready to sign but figures it will take time. “This will take a while to work through,” Munds explained, “so the direction from the Board was to come back to the Board as information is available.”

In a May 23 letter to the CSD, S&T Mutual’s Board President, Julie McAdon said the private company was seeking an agreement that would “purchase some ownership in the LOCSD Program C Well drilled inn 2022. S&T would like to use the new pipeline as a means for progressing overall water supply sustainability and resiliency.”

And relieving pressure on S&T’s well, which is on the western edge of the community and in the potential path of seawater intrusion, too, could help ease the pressure on the overall water basin and would be another shift away from the ocean with the town’s water supply.

S&T also made a deal with the County to hook into the communitywide sewer system run by Public Works and disconnect from a small treatment system it had been using.

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