The public and public agencies have sent more than 100 pages of comments about the Cambria Community Services District’s proposed determination that water-supply tests beneath the beach near Shamel Park won’t have any significant effect on the environment. District directors are scheduled to consider adopting the environmental report at its monthly meeting today, but district staff is recommending that the decision be postponed.
It has taken a long time to research and respond to those comments, according to Greg Sanders, president of the district board, which is why staff is recommending another delay.
“There are a number of possible outcomes” from the meeting, Sanders said. “We just don’t know which one will be approved. It’s up to the board in a public meeting to figure it all out.”
He declined to give a list of options.
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Board Vice President Muril Clift said that among the choices are likely to be:
• Approving the study as it is. “This is probably not the time to go ahead with an actual ‘neg dec,’ Clift said. “We’d probably just get sued”;
• Incorporating comments from agencies and ratepayers, along with the district’s responses, recirculating the revised document and then approving the document. In that option, “you’re developing the record of what you’re providing,” which is of great value when dealing with such agencies as the California Coastal Commission, he said. “It’s probably smart to do your homework ahead of time”;
• Go to the next level of review, what’s known as a mitigated negative declaration (see box), which includes the comments, district responses and ways to compensate for any environmental impacts;
• Do a full environmental impact report for the testing regime, or
• Do a full environmental impact report for the entire desalination project, including the geotechnical tests.
The $733,000 testing project to be done by the Army Corps of Engineers is designed to prove if desalination- plant pumps could pull enough seawater from under the sandy shoreline near the mouth of Santa Rosa Creek to supply the proposed desalination plant, which would likely be located elsewhere, possibly near San Simeon Creek east of San Simeon Creek Campground.
Plans for the tests involve taking up to 10 core samples near Shamel Park and the Santa Rosa Creek beach, which are, respectively, county and state park areas. Up to three of the core-sample sites would be converted into monitoring test wells for a period not to exceed two years.