Viewpoint

The cure for Cambria’s drought headache

July 11, 2014 

The current Cambria Community Services District management has, to date, not pursued offers with upstream farmers to utilize their riparian water to help Cambrians get through the temporary drought like the district has done in previous droughts. And now we learn a few years ago the district did not exercise due diligence to maintain pre-existing water rights for Santa Rosa well 4 (SR4), so mismanagement has further constrained our available water.

But you have not heard the worst, that at essentially no cost to Cambria ratepayers, the district could apply for a temporary (six-month) permit to pump additional water from SR4 inland from the Cambria fault groundwater barrier and be using that essentially free water within 30 days according to the Supervisor of the State Water Resources Control Board Coastal Water Rights Unit.

Subsequently, the district could petition for an extension of time for the “Permit Development Period” for Santa Rosa creek water rights, and if they don’t mismanage their responsibilities again, they could permanently increase the district’s water rights.

Even that nonpotable water you might be paying extra for comes from a CCSD well that provided potable water to Cambrians when I served on the board. And instead of proactively preventing leaks, at least two more leaks (on or near Hartford and Emerson) in the last few weeks poured our drinking water down the gutters.

Fortunately, Cambria residents’ are contributing above and beyond the call of duty, again using approximately half normal usage and San Simeon creek water levels are only about a foot (May 15) below average.

Instead the district proposes a rate increase, not just once but this is the first of many rate increases, to pay for a rushed poorly designed, ultra-expensive and epically inefficient project that will probably never provide water for Cambrians. In fact, the district still cannot tell us how much this project may ultimately cost, but the “red” in the CCSD budget shows they intend to borrow money to continue this insanity.

The CCSD “emergency” project may be the most expensive water per gallon of any project on earth. Why? Because every time the undersized evaporation pond fills (particularly during our foggy summer days) and when un-disinfected wastewater is mechanically aerosolized with evaporators upwind of local farmland, the project will be shut down. And then there is the project injection well located downstream of the CCSD water supply wells such that approximately half of the costly project water will be lost downstream.

And since the tracer test proposes to use approximately 130 acre-feet of our water supply this summer, ~65 acre-feet will be thrown away at our time of greatest water need.

Because of the outrageous costs and waste of water, the CCSD cure for the Cambria drought headache is equivalent to decapitation. Please don’t believe in the district “emergency” water project scam. Fill out the “Written Statement of Protest Against the Cambria Community Services District’s Proposed Water Rate Increase to Fund an Emergency Water Supply Project” and submit it to the CCSD and retain a copy stamped by the CCSD for the community to verify the count of the CCSD.

Lou Blanck is a former Cambria Community Services District director and a professional, certified, geologist and hydrogeologist.

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