The state of California has awarded the city of Paso Robles a $9,730,000 grant for the construction of the city’s Recycled Water Distribution System project.
The grant is provided by the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, through an agreement with the State Water Resources Control Board. The grant will be in combination with a low-interest loan.
According to a press release sent out by city officials on Monday, the project includes the construction of a major pump station at the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant near the Salinas River, 4.5 miles of large diameter water pipeline across the northern part of the city, and a 900,000-gallon concrete tank at the eastern edge of city limits, near Barney Schwartz Park.
This infrastructure will enable the city to deliver over 3,000 acre-feet per year of high-quality recycled water to the city’s east side, for irrigation of parks, golf courses, vineyards, and common area landscaping in new housing developments.
This new source of irrigation water will offset the pumping of groundwater and help alleviate the problem of declining groundwater elevations in the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. Recycled water will also help conserve the city’s valuable supplies of drinking water.
"This recycled water infrastructure is very important for the future of Paso Robles," said Matt Thompson, Paso's new Recycled Water manager. "Recycled water will further diversify the City’s water supplies, help restore balance to our groundwater basin, and support continued economic prosperity."
Now that financing is in place, the city will move ahead with completing plans and specifications for the construction and acquisition of easements. The city aims to have the project ready for bidding and start construction by the end of 2023.
The city plans to sell the recycled water to those who use it for irrigation. This revenue will be used to pay back the construction loan and expenses for operation and maintenance. The price of recycled water will be driven by the cost of the recycled water infrastructure, so this grant funding will help make recycled water use more economical.
“This is fantastic news for all Groundwater Sustainability Agencies in the basin,” said San Luis Obispo County director of Groundwater Sustainability, Blaine Reely. “This project represents the first significant source of supplemental water that irrigators can use to reduce their reliance on groundwater and allow us to move forward aggressively to bring the Paso Basin into a sustainable condition.”
The city has already begun constructing a large segment of the Recycled Water Distribution System. On Feb. 21, the city council awarded a $3,664,525 contract to Mountain Cascade of Livermore, for the construction of a 1,900-foot-long segment of pipeline under the Salinas River and up a steep hillside on the east side of the river. This segment will be completed by late spring 2024.
Construction of the Salinas River Segment is made possible by an additional $3.5 million grant awarded to the city in 2022 by the California Department of Water Resources, with assistance from the County of San Luis Obispo’s Groundwater Sustainability Office.