Faulty part causes 265,000-gallon water spill in water-short Cambria

ktanner@thetribunenews.comOctober 24, 2013 

A device that controls the Stuart Street booster pump station tank and monitors its water level failed Friday morning, Oct. 18, draining about 265,000 gallons from water-short Cambria’s supply.

That’s more than three-quarters of an acre foot, approximately enough to provide water to about four families for a year in hyper-conserving Cambria, according to staff of the Cambria Community Services District.

Cambrians are billed for water by the unit; at 748 gallons per unit, the leak represented nearly 355 units of water. According to district records, approximately 67 percent of district customers have historically used 12 units or less per two-month billing period.

The overflow from the district’s Fiscalini water-storage tank drenched a field adjacent to Lodge Hill’s Top of the World neighborhood.

“I want to be absolutely transparent regarding why the tank overflowed and the gallons that were spilled,” Jerry Gruber, district general manager, wrote in an email to another staff member, an email that was copied to district directors and a vacationing Cambrian reporter who had notified him just 10 minutes earlier about the leak.

“The community is doing a fantastic job with regards to using nonpotable water for outside irrigation,” Gruber wrote, “and I want everyone to know, although technical glitches do occur, that we at the CCSD take events like this very seriously and will work to resolve” any such problem.

“Once we received the call, it took 10 to 15 minutes to shut down and reset the Stuart Street booster,” Mike Finnigan, utilities manager wrote in an email Tuesday.

Finnigan is replacing the faulty device, a level psi/transducer, and the new unit will have a solar-powered battery backup. In the meantime, he said, the current device is functioning, although staff is monitoring it closely.

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