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Jan 24, 2014 8:34 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

Hearst Castle draining the Neptune Pool

One of the Central Coast's most iconic attractions is feeling the impact of the extreme drought. The dry conditions are forcing Hearst Castle to take some unprecedented steps.

The castle's Neptune Pool is overdue for repairs, something that was planned to begin over the next few years. However, the lack of rain has pushed the work forward. Today, it was revealed what they plan on doing with the more than 350 thousand gallons of water.

From the moment you take your first steps on the grounds of Hearst Castle, you're transported back in time. This was certainly the case for Matthew Rutter and Patricia Tsai. They were visiting the Bay area from England and Taiwan when their friends insisted they take a drive down Highway One.

"I heard about it, it's a pretty historic site," said Rutter.

But this historic - and aging - state park faces some modern challenges.

"California is in a pretty big drought and we're no exception," said Nick Franco, California State Parks San Luis Obispo District Superintendent.

One of its main attractions is the first to feel the pinch.

"There is actually a crack that goes down the vertical wall of the pool and down through across the bottom of the pool and out about three feet," said Franco.

Officials had planned to overhaul the famous Neptune Pool over the next two years, but the lack of rain is forcing them to start now.

"Our springs are at about 17 percent of our normal production. Normally, this time of year, we have about 285 thousand gallons per day coming from the springs. We're only at 47 thousand gallons per day," said Franco.

Along with fixing the cracks, they will drain the pool's 350 thousand gallons of water. It will be used to keep more than three miles of vegetation alive through the summer.

But the work isn't easy. "We're finding the irrigation line here along the edge of the road so that we can take pool water drain it into this line and utilize it to water trees along the road," said Ralph Sugar, Hearst Maintenance.

The pools and many of the fountains at the castle will remain empty, and only one thing can change that.

"A lot of rain. That's really it," said Franco.

The Neptune Pool repairs are expected to take up to a year to be completed. During that time, the pool will remain on the Hearst Castle tour.

Officials say the chlorine in the water released from the pool should not be harmful to plants.

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