Cambria services district directors have agreed that they want a plan, soon, for how they can release a few water-service intent-to-serve letters each year without lifting the moratorium on such connections.
The water-emergency declaration the Cambria Community Services District put into effect in November 2001 required that a new water source be online before permits could be issued again.
A rough plan to release 10 to 15 connections a year could be ready for directors to consider within a month or two, but it would ultimately need approval from regulatory agencies, including the California Coastal Commission.
District board President Allan MacKinnon said in his presentation at an April 26 meeting that the water emergency declared in November 2001 “did the right thing,” based on water-use projections at the time, but that the current directors have firm data from the past 10 years that show Cambrians use less water than expected.
So, he said, the district should be able to issue those few connections each year before an auxiliary water source is online or the project has even been confirmed.
He listed some benefits of that plan:
A controlled release of 10 to 15 water connections a year would stimulate the town’s economy with construction jobs and the ripple effect such jobs can produce.
Fees for the connections, which are to be increased soon, “will fund infrastructure repairs and upgrades,” MacKinnon said, and reduce the potential for rate increases.
Revenues from the connections would put the district in a more favorable position to earn the lowest interest rates for any capital-project loans.
The limited release would allow some of the people on the two-decade-old water wait list to “fulfill their dreams” of building homes on their Cambria properties.
Any such release of intent-to-serve letters would “be based on analysis of current hard data” rather than picking numbers out of the air.
Board member Muril Clift said the district is allowed to issue intent-to-serve letters to as many as eight previously assigned or “grandfathered” meters a year.
“I don’t think we’ve released many of those,” he said.
“What if we give priority” to people with grandfathered meters, he asked, and then fill out the balance of eight with projects on the water wait list?
Expanding the district’s conservation program would reduce current demand even further, Mac-Kinnon said, and the conservation could provide the additional water to offset the new connections.
He said that 10 added water connections would require less than two acre-feet a year. An acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons.
The other directors said they agreed with MacKinnon’s concept.
They then instructed district General Manager Jerry Gruber to work with an ad hoc committee on alternative water sources and bring the board a plan on how to make the concept work, perhaps at the May or June meeting.