Cambria officials could OK plan to allow new water hookups

ktanner@thetribunenews.comMarch 20, 2013 

Save a little, spend a little.

With water savings in the works, Cambria Community Services District directors are expected to approve Thursday a partial lifting of a moratorium on new water service commitments in place since 2001.

The plan’s premise is if a few new projects each year can conserve as much or more water elsewhere than the new homes or businesses will use, they should be able to go forward.

The proposal calls for issuing a “limited number” of intent-to-serve letters for water service, if directors approve a resolution that would allow that to happen.

The district board declared in November 2001 that, under the provisions of the state water code, the district had a water-shortage emergency and suspended the issuance of any new water service commitments.

For more than a year, district directors have been pushing to reverse or change that ruling, saying the town uses less water now than in 2001, and the limit on new connections damages the economy of the town and the district, which needs connection fees for new projects.

Board President Mike Thompson called the resolution action “long overdue. ... All in all, it’s sound logic. It makes sense. And I think we need to move forward.”

Deryl Robinson agrees. The leader of United Lot Owners of Cambria, which represents many vacant lot owners on a 665-name waiting list for water service, said in an email, “It appears that the CCSD board and a majority in the community have realized that the moratorium is doing more harm than good, so this is an idea whose time has come.”

The district last month adopted a new “water efficiency” conservation program designed to save even more water through a wide range of actions, including installing new, water-thrifty appliances and fixtures in place of, for instance, water-wasting washing machines at motels and urinals at restaurants and schools.

The county has to sign off before building permits are issued and construction begins. That’s not a shoo-in. The Board of Supervisors last week approved the county’s biannual review of its Resource Management System report, which kept a zero growth rate for Cambria for the next two years.

Supervisors did say they’re willing to work with the district if it can prove that its water-efficiency scenarios will reliably conserve more water than already water-thrifty Cambrians are currently not using.

But county planning staff has said the district should prepare environmental documents to meet requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. The district maintains, because implementing the water-efficiency program and issuing intent-to-serve letters on an interim basis “will not result in direct or indirect physical changes in the environment, staff has concluded that it is exempt” from CEQA.

Meeting Thursday

The Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors meets at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, March 21, in the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.

The agenda and staff reports are online at www.cambriacsd.org. You can watch the meeting live at http://bit.ly/slospanccsd.

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