Representatives of the Cambria and San Simeon services districts have begun talking about the possibility of the former using the latter’s ocean outfall to dispose of brine from its emergency water-supply project, the general manager of the San Simeon agency has confirmed.
Officials of the Cambria Community Services District said late Tuesday that they would refrain from commenting at this time.
When the project is operating, it treats a brackish blend of salty, fresh and treated wastewater, putting it through rigorous filtration, reverse osmosis and other treatment processes. The treated water then is put back into the aquifer, where it slowly flows toward the district wells. Some of the initially filtered water is put into the San Simeon Creek lagoon.
The project had a test run that ended in mid-April, and isn’t expected to be back online until midsummer, according to CCSD officials.
Charlie Grace of the San Simeon Community Services District said CCSD officials approached their sister agency “sometime last year,” indicating that the possibility of using the outfall for brine would be “part of their contingency plan.” He said he doesn’t yet know the details of that plan. He said his Cambria counterpart, Jerry Gruber, “attended one of our water-committee meetings” in October or November 2014, “and gave us an update” about the water-supply project that reclaims and treats brackish water at a San Simeon Creek Road facility on CCSD property.
“At the time, we had a list of concerns,” Grace said. “We wouldn’t treat the concentrate” from Cambria. Instead, CCSD “would use the ocean outfall as a way to get rid of and distribute the brine, returning it to the ocean,” perhaps rather than trying to evaporate the leftovers from the process.
During the recent three-month test of the plant, the brine has been held in a large plastic-lined pond that’s apparently a concern to agencies that must issue or sign off on permits to continue operating the EWS after the current drought is over.
Among those concerns are noise and mist from blowers to impacts on San Simeon Creek and its lagoon, and on birds, frogs, fish and other species.
“We’re open to the concept. We want to be helpful to our neighboring community if they’re struggling with an issue,” Grace said, “but everything’s very preliminary at this point,” and before CCSD could use the outfall, that process would have to be approved by the Regional Water Quality Control Board, State Lands Commission, California Coastal Commission, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and other agencies involved in the process.
Also, “we have to be good environmental stewards,” he said, “We have to assure that by helping our neighboring community, we’re not inflicting damage to the community of San Simeon,” including the various condominiums that are close to the outfall and treatment plant. For instance, Grace would want to know how many truck trips a day would be required for CCSD’s outfall use.