Cambria plan to save water could allow more water hookups

ktanner@thetribunenews.comFebruary 21, 2013 

Cambrians could have a new, official roadmap to conserving the community’s limited water supplies, if officials support the final version of a 66-page plan reviewed at a public town-hall meeting Feb. 12.

The plan is up for district approval at the Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors meeting set to begin at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.

The district board intends to put the conservation plan in place and then use the water savings generated by it to issue a few “intent-to-serve” letters each year for new homes and projects.
That’s despite the water-supply emergency a previous board declared in 2001, along with a moratorium on issuing new water connections. Both actions have been in place ever since. Most of that time, it was assumed the moratorium would not be lifted until a new supplemental water source came on line, or would be closed to it.

About 40 people attended the Feb. 12 meeting.

The Water Conservation Plan prepared by Maddaus Water Management and presented by consultant Lisa Maddaus offered three scenarios for conserving water, but recommended the mid-range of actions in Plan B, which includes some general, residential and commercial measures the district is already doing, others for which ordinances already are in place and a few new ones, such as doing surveys to determine how water-efficient a home is and offering rebates to customers buying high-efficiency clothes washers to replace older, less water-thrifty models.

About a dozen audience members spoke Feb. 12, with questions and comments that ranged from Jesse Arnold’s statement that “you don’t want to use water savings to bring in more people, because that will mean more people suffering in a drought,” and John Terwilliger’s comment that conservation also can cause plumbing issues, such as not having enough water for fixtures to work properly. If manufacturers keep reducing the devices’ water use, “at some point,” he said, “you’ll flush your toilet and the waste won’t go anywhere.”

Former district director Allan MacKinnon asked the difference in cost between plans A and B; Maddaus said it was “on the order of $220,000.” MacKinnon said the district should weigh “needs versus desire,” and should consider reducing their estimated growth rate of up to 1 percent.

There weren’t many differences between the drafts presented at the board’s Jan. 17 meeting and the Feb. 12 town hall, other than the length of the document and increased detail.

One change lowered to 70 acre feet the estimate of water savings by 2020 from implementing Plan B. The preliminary estimate in January was 75 acre feet.

Follow Kathe Tanner on Twitter at @CambriaReporter.

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