Nothing was done
With wells that could run dry in three months, leaders vote to declare an emergency and enact the most stringent conservation measures, states The Cambrian. So, for the first time in three years of drought, our board has decided to take some action other than limiting the hours we can water outdoors. And that action was enacted only a couple of months ago.
Several months ago, when I complained to a former director that our board was incompetent, he responded that the board was “dangerous.” Their incompetence, recklessness, mindlessness and dangerousness has now come home to roost.
How ironic our general manager has called Jerry Brown’s declaration of a state of emergency “too little, too late.” How right that former director was. And how ironic that the only accomplishment of the board in 2013, the third year of drought, was to approve the issuance of intent-to-serve letters for new development. Intent-to-serve letters became their mission, along with protecting the tourist trade against having to cut back on water use.
Nothing was done to find a new source of water. Providing reliable healthy water is what they are supposed to do.
To deal with the emergency that the board itself created, in panic mode, the board has authorized $500,000 for openers to “do whatever it takes.” Basically it has given a no-bid authorization to a private company “to come up with a solution.” No one knows what the project will be, how much it will cost, when it can be completed, or what permits will be required. In other words, it is giving a blank check to a private company “to do something” to save us. Anything at any cost.
This board has done everything possible to shield the business community from sharing the pain of the drought and to promote new construction. Yet residential customers have been mandated to sacrifice their beautiful and expensive gardens, or pay a king’s ransom for imported nonpotable water. Even with the new declaration and restrictions, residential water users are told to cut back 33 percent, but commercial users told to cut back 20 percent. And the fines for commercial and residential users are miniscule, not even pocket change, so will just be a small inconvenience and expense for business. The board should concentrate on the bipartisan job of delivering water and stop playing political favorites.
And perhaps the biggest irony of all is that in the board’s zealousness to support and protect business and help land investors cash in on their investments, if we do run out of water, it will destroy many businesses in Cambria and prevent new construction for years to come, as well as significantly reduce the value of our homes.
First things first
Hello? There is no water!
I tuned in to the TV broadcast of the Jan. 30 Cambria Community Services District meeting and listened with disbelief as speakers ranted on and on about the water rate increase.
It won’t matter what anyone’s water bill will be if there isn’t any water to pay for. If a faucet is turned on and nothing comes out, there isn’t anything to pay for. Right or wrong, Cambrians demand a source of water from the CCSD. That is where the discussion should be and outrage expressed at the CCSD, past and present, who have made endless studies and spent millions of dollars without bringing a water source to this town.
At the Jan. 30 meeting, a board member said a plan was ready to go to spend another $500,000 on another study. Cambrians, wake up if you too heard this and don’t allow another study to happen. In a recent letter to the editor, former CCSD member Alan McKinnon wrote about a reverse osmosis desalination system that is used on 6,000-passenger cruise ships that could be put into use in Cambria at a low cost. Why didn’t Mr McKinnon suggest this solution when he was a board member?
WATER NOW — then we can discuss how much we’ll pay for something that we’ll have.
Three (3) days without water and you die. Unless you live under a rock, we all know that we are running out of water, the very elixir to sustain life. Our Cambria Community Services District board has failed us — again. We are all facing the most severe drought in over 165 years and Cambria still has NO secondary sources for water. According to a long-standing board member, we have 16 weeks left — and he said that two weeks ago!
The recent decision by the board to surcharge the residents more than the businesses for using four units per billing cycle is absurd! Further, punishing the rate payers will not add one drop to our aquifers! Hotels are allotted a percentage based off of last year — a banner year for tourism — and it’s the residents who pay more for using less water. Why should we residents be “punished” for using less water!?!
Joe Blow from Montana doesn’t give a hoot nor a holler about our water shortage — he’s on VACATION with his family and is paying good money to enjoy our town and, by gum, he’ll take 10 minute showers or fill the tub; he’ll be gone in two days and off to the next stop. The Amgen tour is coming, we have the annual Scarecrow Festival, and the Craft Fairs every time I turn around — more tourists using more of our quickly disappearing water.
The suggestion by a former board member to tertiary treat our already treated waste water and pipe it to our aquifer is fantastic! Instead of piping it to a field in San Simeon and just spraying it on the ground as we do now, we put it back into the aquifer so it replenishes our water supply as it filters down. Creating catch-and-store basins is another great idea and a viable location has been identified NOW.
If running out of water doesn’t destroy our town, the legal actions that follow will forever bury our Pines-by-the-Sea paradise. I urge you to contact our board members NOW and tell them you want a logical, affordable, renewable solution to our long-term water problem.
Desalination is costly, very costly, and there are many solutions that are far better for our long term survival. I urge you to get involved as this situation will not go away on its own and there are very bright, concerned residents working to fix this issue now — in spite of our current do-nothing board. Stay tuned for information on the next Cambrians for Change meeting and learn more — we openly welcome your ideas too. Your life and your home you worked hard for depend on it. And if you are a business owner in town, your livelihood depends on it too!
NO WATER = PARADISE LOST.
Marilyn Kirkey, member
Cambrians for Change
Considering storm patterns throughout the world and certainly within the U.S., in all probability we have a permanent drought condition in Cambria that may last several more years or more. The problem with gambling is that eventually you lose.
This has been the third year of drought conditions. Each one has further depleted the aquifers. What would you be willing to gamble on the fourth year?
That, of course, is what the Cambia Community Services District, along with the naysayers regarding a permanent long term desal solution, have been doing.
We have a good manager, but the board is inclined to bend an ear to the naysayers who already have their bit of Cambria and are not willing to allow those who have similar plans to realize their hopes as well.
We definitely must proceed with a temporary solution. However, this does not entitle the board to ignore the long-term needs for existing and future entitled lot owners. The lots were all created together and each has an equal right to water.
The continuing excuse of the CCSD is “We have to have a moratorium until we have adequate water supplies.” The CCSD knows very well it has an obligation to provide services for the existing community as well as the remaining legal lots which constitute the anticipated future development. Special sistricts typically have enabling agreements with such a mandate. The CCSD is negligent in fulfilling this need.
CCSD, please do your job for all of us.
The CCSD apparently backed off of attempts to have a desal plant because the California Coastal Commission said “no” with trivial arguments. The public needs to know that the commission knows no other word than “no.” In my many adversarial experiences with the commission as a former engineer with the Los Angeles County Public Works, the commission showed no compunctions about destroying hopes and finances of prospective home owners. They operate under one guideline “wear the owners out until they are broke.”
The only solution that seems to work is persistence and a lawsuit along with political contacts at the highest state and federal levels. A proper course would be for the CCSD board to reactivate processing of the desal plant and forget the argument that new studies are required.
The money already spent on perpetual studies would go a long way toward paying for a desal system. There is little more that can be studied with all that HAS been studied.
Money? Right. The plant would be more expensive today than 5 years ago. However, how much is the entire community of Cambria worth? How much will it be worth without water?
This is truly an emergency situation. Depending on how much is remaining in the desal funding sources, additional funds can be made available through a bond program. The community members or others can buy the bonds with a 4 or 5 percent return. Increased water rates would pay off the bonds plus interest, and everybody wins.
The increase will be necessary whatever we do. We all have a vested interest and will have to accept the increase. Much better than no water. Again, all legal lots created with the original subdivision must be included.
Just in case
Many of you know me for having staged two free roof rainwater catchment seminars locally. Obviously, I have, in my own individual way, tried to inform residents of what they could do to protect themselves from drought and incompetence by area water managers.
Now we have a situation where the town could truly run out of groundwater, our only source, in three months. Some 17 other small rural communities in California appear to be in the same or similar boat.
The imposition of a two unit per month per resident water allocation will be impossible to achieve for most locals. Californians use an average of 150 gallons a DAY, and this represents a third of that amount. But most of us are certainly going to give it a try by flushing toilets with gray water, taking shorter showers and eliminating all landscape watering with potable water.
HOWEVER, if the town runs out of water, all bets are off. Therefore, I have created a four-page, detailed document that projects what could happen IF — if not when — the town runs out of well water, and what you can do NOW (or after) in such an instance.
I believe I have covered all the bases as I started working on this weeks ago.
This information is not something you will get from the Cambria Community Services District or even the newspaper as it is very detailed. You will learn about any future rainwater catchment seminars, where potable or non-potable water can be obtained away from your home, continuing conservation strategies and how to build a large cistern for an amazingly low price.
The document will be distributed FREE by Feb. 15 at the following locations: the Cambria Business Center, the post office, and the new library. OR, you can receive a free copy in the mail by sending a SASE to Bill Seavey, P.O. Box 1681, Cambria 93428.
No phone calls, please, and the information is not available online.
William L. Seavey
Heart Health Month
Cardiovascular disease is the number-one killer of women in the United States today. Heart disease knows no boundaries of age, sex, ethnicity or financial status. Women are at particular risk for a number of reasons, one being a lack of understanding of the risk factors involved and another, the differences in the presentation of the symptoms of a cardiac episode in women.
During February, The American Heart Association and Go Red For Women target women to help raise their awareness in the fight against heart disease and learning to “love your heart” to live a longer, healthier life. Learn your numbers (weight, blood pressure, percentage of body fat, body measurements), evaluate your diet and exercise regime.
Stop by your local fitness facility or healthcare provider during February to learn your numbers. Taking preventative steps today can significantly reduce the chances of getting heart disease tomorrow, next year or ten years from now.
On Friday, Feb. 7, join millions of women on National Wear Red Day and wear red to help raise awareness about women and heart disease; to help the important women in your life — your mother, your daughter, your sister, but especially yourself! Join the movement. Learn your numbers. Go red and find your own personal way to fight heart disease.
Kristi A. Jenkins
Since I had back surgery last year, I am greatly improved and manage to get around by a walker, however, after a while it becomes tiring to stand in one place. I would like to recognize a familiar place in Cambria, The Cookie Crock.
They have been gracious enough to extend a small courtesy and place a sit down chair by the entrance inside. Now I can take a break, while my wife shops, to sit down and strengthen my legs again. It is the little things that mean a lot, and my congratulations to “crazy” Stan (he just calls himself crazy in The Cambrian advertisement), Kathleen and all of the gang down at the Cookie Crock Market for their thoughtfulness.
Wow, wow, wow and wow!
After the first number of Friday’s Cambria Center for the Art’s “Three Sopranos and a Piano” concert, I whispered to my wife Suzanne: “Holy cow!”
I couldn’t believe that in our little hamlet of 6,000 souls there could be such talent. And that was just the first number!
What followed was an outpouring of operatic and period singing, piano and dancing talent I had not witnessed before here in Cambria — not even at last June’s preview, which was good but not so overpowering as was Friday’s concert.
I hope that Jan Callner, Melanie Gruber, Mary Schwalbe and Karen Johnson continue to offer Cambrians their superb talents and will enjoy SRO audiences as they deserve!
I know Suze and I will be there when they do. And if Tiffany Stevens’ dances are indicative of what we can expect from her choreography of “Guys and Dolls,” we’ll be there, too.
Letters must be signed (no pseudonyms), with the writers address and phone number for verification. Shorter letters (under 250 words) on local topics by local authors are published sooner. E-mail letters to firstname.lastname@example.org, mail to The Cambrian, 2442 Main Street, Cambria, CA 93428; or fax to 927-4708. Letters should be received at The Cambrian by noon Friday to be considered for publication the following Thursday. All submissions become the property of The Cambrian.