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Paso Robles City Council greenlights funding for ambitious recycled water project

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Posted at 9:19 PM, Apr 04, 2023

The Paso Robles City Council has approved millions in funding for an ambitious recycled water project.

The project involves building a 4.5-mile pipeline that will carry recycled water to vineyards and parks on the east side of the city.

“I think it’ll save water and it goes back into the ground,” said Doris Vermi, who lives near Paso Robles.

The city is moving forward with a $35 million-dollar project that will bring an extra source of water to the east side of the city along Highway 46.

“It’s a really transformational infrastructure. This is a very large project for a relatively small city,” said Paso Robles Recycled Water Manager Matt Thompson.

The city will sell purified recycled water to dozens of vineyards which means they will pump far less groundwater.

“It’ll be for the entire region here. This region will be able to pump less and come closer to balance,” said Jerry Lohr, Founder of J.Lohr Vineyards and Wines.

He is heavily involved in the project and hopes it will stabilize groundwater supplies in an area that has been struggling with over-pumping.

“I’m a civil engineer. I’ve been working this and leading it,” said Lohr. “In February, we got that place of use restriction lifted so, I am ecstatic.”

It’s not just vineyard owners who will benefit. The pipeline will keep golf courses and city parks green.

“We’ve designed the project to minimize impacts to roadways,” said Thompson. “A lot of the pipeline segments are being installed now in conjunction with the new development.”

The pipeline will start at the city’s wastewater treatment plant along the Salinas River and run east through River Oaks Golf Course, ending near Barnie Schwartz Park.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Doris Vermi, who welcomes the idea of stabilizing groundwater supplies, especially after having to dig a deeper well.

“That was a while ago—several years ago, but we did go 820 feet deep because we’re on a hill,” she said.

The city has approved around $9.75 million in state funding that comes in the form of grants and low-interest loans. They plan on paying off any debt by selling recycled water to vineyards and other customers.

“We’ll use the revenues from the sale of that recycled water to pay back the annual debt,” explained Thompson.

The city hopes to break ground next year and the project should be complete by 2026.

The city has already built the purification treatment at its wastewater plant, so all that’s left is completing the pipeline which should take 24-36 months.