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Nipomo pipeline survives injunction attempt 

A $17.5 million project to connect the Nipomo Mesa to an outside water supply withstood a recent legal challenge by a citizens’ group.

On June 5, Judge Martin Tangeman denied a preliminary injunction request and allowed the project to go forward during litigation. Given the scope of the pipeline plans and the court docket, that decision essentially equals a go-ahead.

Mesa Community Alliance filed the suit because the district originally planned to use $4 million in reserve funds to complete the first stage of the project.

Reservations about the significant cost of hooking the Mesa up to Santa Maria water prompted a majority of Nipomo homeowners to vote against a similar $26 million project last May.

Rather than risk missing critical deadlines, the district decided to take out more bonds for the project instead of using reserve funds. Wildlife officials only granted the district access to build over the Santa Maria riverbed until October 31. A $2.2 million state grant also hung in the balance.

Tangeman explained in the order denying the injunction that, with the crux of Alliance’s case rendered moot, the public interest balance weighed heavily in favor of allowing the district to proceed with issuing the bonds.

“If an injunction is granted preventing the District’s use of funds from [the reserve], then the District may be required to proceed with the alternate finance plan, which will substantially increase the costs of the Project,” Tangeman wrote.

According to district general manager Michael LeBrun, the pipeline would begin delivering water to Nipomo by fall 2014 if all goes as planned in issuing the $10.5 million in bonds.

“If this past ‘rainy’ season is repeated next year, that water’s arrival will be very welcomed,” LeBrun said.

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