Cambrians express frustration with water situation, raise prospect of recall

betling@thetribunenews.comApril 3, 2014 

Mike McLaughlin, standing at right, speaks on Sunday, March 30, during a public meeting organized by the grassroots Cambrians for Change organization, led by Tina Dickason, at left.

BERT ETLING — betling@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

Frustrated, angry and looking for answers, about 80 Cambrians turned out Sunday afternoon, March 30, to discuss Cambria’s water crisis, possible short and long-term solutions, possible recall of the current board and candidates for the fall election.

At the end of the two-hour meeting at Rabobank, no definite actions were taken, but it seemed possible circulation of a “vote of no confidence” petition about the current board could be circulated and Cambrians for Change sparkplug Tina Dickason would not rule out her candidacy for a seat on the board, albeit reluctantly due to the impending retirement of her spouse.

As at prior meetings of the grassroots group, former Cambria Community Services District board member Lou Blanck was vocal, calling desalination, “a sham, a rip-off,” and saying the motivation behind the choice of district boards through the years of desalination as a preferred alternative as a supplemental water source “is to bankrupt the district.”

Blanck repeated his calls for a reservoir as a better alternative water source and said the district could buy water from San Simeon Creek ranchers to tide the town over until El Niño storms some have forecast for the fall bring the district out of a crisis.

District studies have consistently shown that desalination, while expensive compared to pumping water from wells, is the most cost-effective of various water supply alternatives, including local reservoirs, pipelines to other area reservoirs, or state water. District board President Jim Bahringer said the only San Simeon rancher licensed to sell potable water is about to run out himself.

Speaking of the district’s failure to declare a water emergency, or even ask for conservation, in a timely fashion, the board was either “incompetent” or “knew and didn’t let us know” of the pending water shortage last fall, even as they were moving to allow issuance of new water service hookups, said Catherine Ryan Hyde. “It’s time to start a recall, if for no other reason than to send a message.”

“We’re not happy with these guys,” Jack Mettier said of the board (two members, Bahringer and, though she arrived late, Amanda Rice, attended the meeting). “They need to be shamed, with a vote of no confidence.”

“They need to step down,” said Tom Kirkey.

“This town is going to crumble,” Dickason said. “It’s a march to the madness of desal.”

She said if she did run and was elected, she would “build a reservoir on Clyde Warren’s property.”

“I would like to see more of a sense of community,” Priscilla Mikesell said to the group near the end of the meeting. “I feel a little edginess. We need to show respect for one another.”

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