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Testing for planned Five Cities recycled water project underway in Oceano

Central Coast Blue

OCEANO, Calif. -- The long-planned Central Coast Blue project in the Five Cities is moving closer to reality.

The project would create a regional recycled water facility to provide a sustainable water supply and protect the Santa Maria Groundwater Basin.

"Basically, we're trying to expand our water supply," said Pismo Beach Mayor Ed Waage. "During the last drought, we came really close to losing two of our water supplies. With Central Coast Blue, this adds an additional water supply and this will also help protect our groundwater supply."

It's a collaborative effort between several agencies, including the cities of Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, and Grover Beach, plus the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District and Oceano Community Services District.

"It's one community, one water, one future," said Benjamin Fine, Pismo Beach Public Works Director. "Central Coast Blue is bringing the communities together. It's a regional partnership, regional collaboration to help us protect our shared resource."

On Tuesday, the Pismo Beach City Council is scheduled to consider the adoption of a resolution certifying the Final Environmental Impact Report.

As the project continues through the early phases of approval and environmental reviews, work is currently happening along Highway 1 in Oceano.

Recently, drilling and construction of a test injection well site started at the Coastal Dunes RV Park at 1001 Pacific Boulevard in Oceano.

"We're drilling a test injection well," said Fine. "What this well will allow us to do. We have models that predict how the basin will react when this water is injected into it. This test injection well will allows us to observe and verify those models and to collect additional data on how the basin will be able to react to the injected water, store the injected water, and then help us to extract that injected water."

Construction is scheduled to last about 12 weeks, while testing could last several addition weeks after work at the site is completed.

The project includes a highly visible sound barrier that is located near the busy intersection of Highway and Pier Avenue.

"It does a really good job at attenuating the sound," said Fine. "The drilling operation is a 24/7 operation. They can't stop once they start, the well can collapse in on itself. To help mitigate the noise for the neighbors, we constructed this temporary sound wall that helps to attenuate the sound."

Once construction is finished, the temporary walls will be removed and a series of tests will take place to determine the location feasibility for groundwater injection.

According to a City of Pismo Beach press release, Central Coast Blue will increase municipal groundwater supplies by 30 percent and reduce the amount of treated wastewater discharged into the ocean by 77 percent.

It goes on to say, the project is intended to provide water independence for the Five Cities, enhance water supply and quality, provide drought resistance, and create an asset out of a resource currently that is currently

"Should the council certify the EIR, we'll come back on March 16th with a Memorandum of Agreement, outlining really, how the project will be owned and operated amongst the partner agencies, and so that will be the next major milestone," said Fine. "Then we can just continue on with the design work, of not only the injection facilities, but also the advanced purification facility."

According to Waage, ribbon cutting is still a ways off, in 2022 at the earliest, or even further out in 2023.

"I'm excited we're at this point," said Waage. "We've been talking about it for a long time. We have the EIR ready for review. We're finally drilling a well to find out how well the model works. I'm excited we're at this point and looking forward to completing the project."

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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.


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