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Pismo agrees to sell half its surplus state water for $284K 

Taking advantage of their diverse water portfolio and substantial stored water resources, Pismo Beach City Council members unanimously agreed to sell 1,122 acre-feet of the town’s surplus stored state water to San Luis Obispo County for $283,866—or $253 per acre-foot—during their Nov. 19 meeting.

The city has rights to draw annual allocations from Lopez Lake, the Santa Maria Groundwater Basin, and the State Water Project. By the end of 2012, the city had accumulated some 2,050 acre-feet of stored state water in the San Luis Reservoir in Merced County.

According to Pismo Beach Director of Public Works Benjamin Fine, Pismo can draw 1,240 acre-feet of state water per year, and it was on track to have two years’ worth of that allocation stored up in the reservoir by the end of 2013.

“Having the surplus is like having an insurance policy, but it’s also like gambling,” Fine told New Times. “It’s great to have it while it’s there, but you also lose it all when the reservoir overtops.”

That zeroing out happens when it rains a lot—an occurrence not seen since 2010, according to Fine. He said it’s risky for the city to keep a large amount of reserved state water there because of the possibility of a complete loss.

“One year of insurance, which is what we’re keeping, is good, but keeping two years’ worth was unnecessary,” Fine said.

The $283,866 the city will be paid by the county is set to be split among several water-related entities.

Firstly, $75,000 will be allocated to the Recycled Water Facilities Planning Project, and that amount will be equaled by a state matching funds grant. Secondly, $85,000 will go to financial software upgrades for the Water Enterprise Fund. The remaining $123,866 will be split equally between ratepayer rebates and funding for future capital improvement projects, including city reservoir upgrades.

The ratepayer rebate breaks down to roughly $13.41 for each of the city’s 4,618 ratepayers. It will be credited in early 2014.

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