Dana Reserve Water Usage Letter
Below is a copy of the letter we recently sent out to the majority of the Nipomo Community. It shares our love for Nipomo, connection to its history and our hope for the project. Most importantly this letter addresses concerns about water and the complex situation the Nipomo NCSD is in.
110 S. Mary Ave
Ste 2 PMB 128
Nipomo, CA 93444
Dear Nipomo Neighbor,
My name is Nick Tompkins, and I am the Managing Partner for the Dana Reserve – a new home community proposed in Nipomo, located south of Willow Road and east of Pomeroy. As a fifth-generation family in Nipomo that still lives less than a mile from the Dana Reserve, we want to create a project that maximizes the benefits for Nipomo and surrounding areas. Through hundreds of internal meetings, over 50 community stakeholder discussions, thousands of pages of analysis, and 31 iterations of the design, we have created the current Dana Reserve development proposal which we believe is a benefit for the community we call home.
Today, I would like to address one community benefit of the project which is particularly important in Nipomo: Water.
Prior to this letter, the Nipomo Community Services District (NCSD) contracted 3rd party engineering groups to perform three separate and exhaustive studies on the impact of the Dana Reserve on the Nipomo Basin’s sustainability, your rates for water and sewer, and the water and sewer infrastructure that services your home. The NCSD’s studies reveal that this project will not decrease water supply or place financial burden on current ratepayers.
Study #1 The strength and sustainability of your water supply now and into the future
Finding: Adopted by the NCSD Board of Directors in December 2021, this study demonstrates that not only is there sufficient water to serve the Dana Reserve, but that if every existing home added and utilized an ADU, and every vacant lot in the NCSD was built and included an ADU, and the Dana Reserve was fully built out and operational, the NCSD would have 400-acre feet (130,340,400 gallons) per year of excess water supply – even in times of extended drought.
Study #2 The impacts on water rates and sewer rates for existing customers
Finding: The NCSD contracted study, the Tuckfield report, estimates the Dana Reserve will reduce NCSD water rates and reduce sewer rates by a very substantial 30%. Dana Reserve customers will pay a higher water rate than existing customers because they will pay exclusively for more expensive imported water from the City of Santa Maria (which NCSD already has a contractual obligation to purchase). Dana Reserve will shield existing ratepayers from these costs which will solely burden existing ratepayers if new customers are not added to the NCSD.
Study #3 The cost of any infrastructure that will be required to serve the Dana Reserve
Finding: The NCSD contracted study demonstrates the Dana Reserve will fund the improvements needed to serve the development and its retroactive share of existing infrastructure through one-time, upfront NCSD sewer and water connection fees ($31,000,000). An additional commitment of $4,500,000 by the Dana Reserve to NCSD will be dedicated to other needed infrastructure improvements as determined by their Board of Directors.
To read the studies, please visit ncsd.ca.gov for the full reports or, additionally, see the following pages for more detailed information.
We raised our family in this community and have watched our own kids struggle to buy a home as they’ve returned. We’ve seen our friends’ children move out of the area because they could not afford to live where they grew up. We believe we must provide affordable, yet responsible housing, and I know this project can do that.
Thank you for your time,
More Detailed Nipomo Water Study Summaries
Study #1: NCSD Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP) Study
Study Prepared by MKN & Associates for Nipomo Community Services District – December 2021
This 2020 study was adopted by the Board of Directors of the NCSD in December of 2021 to serve as a five-year update to the Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP) – a required document by the state of California, Department of Water Resources.
The adopted plan considered the water supply sustainability for NCSD ratepayers through 2045. To be conservative, the NCSD assumed that within the district, every vacant lot had been fully developed, 100% of homeowners built and utilized an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), and the Dana Reserve was fully developed as planned.
Under these assumptions, the UWMP reached the conclusion that not only is there sufficient water to supply the Dana Reserve and existing NCSD customers – even in times of extended drought – but that there remains 400-acre feet per year of excess unallocated water. (UWMP, pg. 7-6)
The study demonstrates that under the existing Court ordered stipulation, NCSD must purchase additional imported water from the City of Santa Maria. The UWMP demonstrates that NCSD’s groundwater pumping, including the Dana Reserve usage, will be approximately 25% of 2007 groundwater pumping amounts and 30% less than the current 2021 groundwater pumping.
Furthermore, with the inclusion of the Dana Reserve, which will exclusively use the water purchased from Santa Maria in perpetuity, more water will be added to the Nipomo aquifer than removed for the first time in NCSD history. The imported water from Santa Maria used in the homes of the Dana Reserve will percolate into the Nipomo Groundwater Basin through the return flows from the Nipomo Sanitation Plant. The imported water will contribute a new source of water to the basin’s recharge portfolio.
Study #2: Dana Reserve Project Impact Study – Impact on Water and Sewer Rates
Study Prepared by Tuckfield and Associates for the Nipomo Community Services District – May 17, 2022
The NCSD is contractually obligated to purchase additional imported water from Santa Maria, commencing in 2025. This additional purchase of water from Santa Maria is mandated by a Court ordered stipulation. The cost of this imported water is approximately 3x the cost of current ground water pumped from the Nipomo Basin.
The Dana Reserve customers will pay a higher water rate than existing customers because they will be paying exclusively for imported water from the City of Santa Maria. Existing customers have the benefit of a blended water rate made up of groundwater and imported water costs, where groundwater is less expensive to provide. The Dana Reserve will exclusively utilize this more expensive Santa Maria water, reducing the future financial burden the more expensive water will bring on existing customers. Furthermore, the Dana Reserve will also connect to the NCSD Sanitation facility. The NCSD-ordered study indicates an adequate capacity for full build out of Nipomo and the Dana Reserve. The inclusion of the Dana Reserve will allow for existing fixed costs at the sanitation plant to be distributed over a larger number of ratepayers. The rate study estimates NCSD sewer bills will be reduced by 30% once the Dana Reserve is completed.
The study also demonstrates that the NCSD’s financial health improves significantly with the Dana Reserve – allowing the NCSD to increase capital reserves.
Study #3: Dana Reserve Development Water and Waste-Water Service Evaluation
Study Prepared by MKN & Associates for Nipomo Community Services District – February 2022
The NCSD contracted a study to examine both the infrastructure improvements that will be required as part of the Dana Reserve and upgrades to existing infrastructure that will improve service levels for both existing and new customers.
The Dana Reserve will pay in excess of $31,000,000 one-time NCSD connection fees and charges to build the necessary infrastructure to serve the development. An additional commitment of $4,500,000 by the Dana Reserve to NCSD will be dedicated to other needed infrastructure improvements as determined by their Board of Directors.
The study identifies those improvement costs specific to the Dana Reserve will be reimbursed through the developer’s payment of connection fees. Payment from the Dana Reserve for its share of existing improvements – those constructed improvements needed to import water from Santa Maria – are included in the connection fees and charges.