Don’t let Cambria’s water go down the tourist drain

May 2, 2014 

The April 11 Cambrian acknowledged the exemplary work of Cambria’s residents in water conservation, more effective than ever before. My friends and neighbors (except those who've fudged on their affidavits) take G.I. showers, have yellow toilet bowls and use gray water to keep our meager landscaping alive, all of which have born spectacular results in water savings.

Still, I wondered about how our tourists are conserving water because there are still no printed signs in either the north or south entrance to our village advising them of our dangerously low water supply. Why hasn't this been done, Mr. Gruber? Is it the Realtor’s demands again? What do you plan on doing, given the upcoming Amgen event and the hordes coming our way?

In any case, I decided to take a survey of motels on Moonstone Beach. I first asked Google how much water was used in the average 10-minute shower. The answer was from 15 to 25 gallons depending on the flow rate of the shower head.

The average bath-tub overflows into the built-in drain at 42 gallons. Tubs with Jacuzzi-type fittings (water jets) use from 55 to 75 gallons. Fifty to 75 gallons! Quite a difference.

I then telephoned some motels on Moonstone to find out how many of these jetted (Jacuzzi) tubs there were. The Little Sur Inn had six such tubs and the Moonstone Landing had one. So what do you think of this, Mr. Bahringer? What do you plan on doing about it?

The Blue Dolphin has six and the Sand Pebbles has five. What do you think of this Ms. Rice? What do plan on doing about it?

The Fireside Inn has eight and Cambria Shores has two. What do you think of this, Ms. Robinette? What do you plan on doing about it?

The Pelican Suites have eight and the Captain's Cove has one. What do you think about this, Mr. Thompson? What are you going to do about it?

The El Colibri has 14! What do you think about this, Mr. Clift? What do you plan on doing about it?

That's 50 tubs at 55 to 75 gallons per use. Oh yes, all of the motels told me there are no restrictions or limitations on their use.

The chatter around the CCSD office still centers around Cambria running out of water by July 1. Running out of water, and hardly a single proactive measure being taken by members of the board of the CCSD.

The Cambria Tourism Board contracted with a public relations firm in Fresno last year. They are targeting Los Angeles in particular and have been very successful. Did you know the residents of L.A. can still wash their driveways with potable water? What do they know or care of our problem? What about those signs, again Mr. Gruber, telling them of our critical shortage?

So, Mr. Gray, the CCSD’s public relations person. How will you spin this?

But please spare me the argument that Cambria would cease to exist if it were not for tourists.

This fallacy has been repeated so often it is actually accepted as fact by many. Of course, it is nothing more than self-serving hype generated by those who profit by tourism.

The truth is the residents of Cambria moved here, not because of the motels, restaurants and shops, but because of our unique and breathtaking ecosystem consisting of a Monterey Pine forest growing by a ruggedly spectacular coast line and all cradled in a mild Mediterranean climate.

That and our picturesque rolling hills with a back drop of the Santa Lucia Mountains.

We treasure Cambria's rural serenity far from the maddening crowds of the big cities and the charm of living in a properly termed village. We are calmed by the tranquility of the fog that advances and recedes like a living and breathing thing. We are the gateway to Big Sur and some of the most beautiful vistas in the world.

These are some of the reasons Cambria would thrive even after the loss of the tourist industry. Would Cambrians be inconvenienced by their loss? Absolutely, but the diminished threat to our way of life would be well worth it. And, with the huge savings in water, Cambria might be able to grow again because it is the residents who define Cambria, not the tourists.

Dennis Ortenburger is a resident of Cambria.

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