Cambria well levels rebound from precipitous lows

ktanner@thetribunenews.comOctober 9, 2013 

Don Scrivner, a Cambria landscaper at left, learns about various sizes of water-storage tanks and pumps Friday, Oct. 4, from Cliff Mayer of Camco Ag Spray & Fertilizer Equipment in Kerman. Mayer, wife Charlene and their dog Maggie have a second home in Cambria and commute to it 'nearly every weekend,' he said.

KATHE TANNER — ktanner@thetribunenews.com

Correction: An earlier version of this story should have said Jerry Gruber believes water is rising in monitoring wells at Santa Rosa Creek, not San Simeon Creek, because of reduced irrigation of Shamel Park.

Water levels are rising somewhat in Cambria’s municipal wells at the San Simeon field, according to Jerry Gruber, services district general manager, who released the latest measurements Monday, Oct. 7.

The average of those well levels is now 5.52 feet above sea level, up from the brink of 2.84 feet on Sept. 16, the lowest mid-September readings since the drought years of 1988-89.

Due to very low water levels in those Cambria Community Services District wells, ratepayers are forbidden to irrigate landscaping and plants with drinkable water from the tap or hose. That ban likely will be discussed again at the district Board of Directors meeting Oct. 24.

Some Cambrians, already noted for being water thrifty, say they’re experiencing falls and enduring sore shoulders and backs from hauling to their gardens big buckets filled with shower or bathwater — one mostly full 2.5 gallon bucket weighed in at 19 pounds, which can be a real deadlift for people not accustomed to hoisting heavy objects.

Other people are dedicating large chunks of time and effort to getting nonpotable water from a district hose bib just off San Simeon Creek Road, or water from a well owned by San Simeon Creek rancher Clyde Warren. The latter is what Winsor Construction delivers to big tanks at Cambria Nursery and near the skate park on Main Street. Other Cambrians are paying gardeners and haulers to get water from the district connection or Warren well and apply it to their landscapes.

Some district ratepayers are taking the pricier leap into the next level of water reuse, buying large storage tanks in which to hold nonpotable water from the district, the Warren well or roof drain collection systems.

Part-time Cambria residents Cliff and Charlene Mayer were doing good business Friday and over the weekend, selling from a trailer full of tanks set up across from the Veterans Memorial Building.

His Camco Ag Spray & Fertilizer Equipment company sells the tanks in Kerman, just west of Fresno, and offers sizes from 65 to 5,000 gallons.

“We’re over here just about every weekend,” he said Friday, “so it made sense to bring these with us.”

Aquifer recharging

In Gruber’s email to district directors and others Monday, he wrote that he believes the water is rising in Santa Rosa Creek monitoring wells due in part to the county’s reduced irrigation of Shamel Park. The agency agreed to pump from its irrigation well once a week, rather than three times a week. Even in this time of water shortage, according to Curtis Black, deputy director of county parks, some irrigation is needed to keep the public park’s lawn and landscaping alive and at least somewhat green.

Exacerbating the problem for much of this year, CCSD was unable to draw water from its SR4 well in another watershed on Santa Rosa Creek. First, the well was undergoing repairs, maintenance and upgrades. Once those were complete, the district’s permit restrictions forbade water withdrawals because the level in a key monitoring well had fallen below 3 feet.

Level in the WBE monitoring well is at 3.05 feet, above the 3-foot “thou-shalt-not-pump” level. Current level in the SR4 is 43.66 feet, down from 47.27 feet on Sept. 23.

Gruber said staffers are “also working closely with the school district” on reducing irrigation at Coast Union High School, which has its own well on Santa Rosa Creek.

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