SLO County moves ahead with plans to use Diablo desal water - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

SLO County moves ahead with plans to use Diablo desal water

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Diablo Canyon Power Plant's desalination facility Diablo Canyon Power Plant's desalination facility

For months, San Luis Obispo County and Pacific Gas & Electric have been talking about using leftover water from the Diablo Canyon desalination plant to help relieve critically low water basins. 

Tuesday, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors was unanimous in deciding to move forward with plans to pipe desal water to either Los Osos or Avila Beach, connecting to Lopez Lake. 

However, planning, permitting and funding all have to be finished before this drought emergency project can break ground. 

"We're looking at how we could take some more pipe that already exists in the ground that would take the water from Diablo, the desal water, and put it into Lopez," Supervisor Adam Hill said. 

Lopez serves much of the Five Cities and is currently at about 30 percent capacity. Los Osos is dealing with salt water intrusion and needs water too. The county must decide which area is better suited to receive the desal water. 

Guy Savage heads a subcommittee studying the desal project for the Board of Supervisors. 

"It's kind of like a hose...you typically would hook up a hose to the end of a spigot at your house. Imagine if you could put water in from both sides of that hose. That's essentially what we would be doing," Savage told KSBY. "Put water in from both sides of the pipe and therefore use it in that community."

The water that would otherwise come from groundwater basins or Lopez Lake would be offset with up to 390,000,000 gallons of desal water. 

The big question remaining - cost. 

"We don't have a good figure on what it will cost. That's really the next step," Savage said. "...to do a little more full-baked design and figure out what those costs would be to either take the water to the Avila Beach side of things or over into Los Osos."

If the Board decides to send the water to Los Osos, an 11-mile pipeline will run from Diablo to the community. A seven-mile pipeline would be built from the plant to Avila Beach, if the Board decides in that direction. 

In the next 100 days, Savage's subcommittee will continue to study whether it’s the right decision to tap into Diablo's desal plant. 

At the end of this year, the supervisors will review the plans again to determine whether to build the pipes. 

If the needed state funding and environmental permitting are approved, the pipeline could be up and running in as soon as 18 months.

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