Cambria is on the road to water security. Now is not the time to turn back because of fear that a reliable water supply will produce unbridled growth and turn our town into another Orange County. That is a tired argument with no basis in fact. And it is time to put it to rest.
Here’s why: The CCSD has capped water connections to a maximum total of 4,650, including current water users and those on the wait list. The county has established an annual growth rate for Cambria at 0 percent. And, the community’s urban services line, along with Cambria’s location and geography, puts a hard boundary around the town. These current realities control Cambria’s growth correctly, in my opinion, and trump the misguided efforts by some to “save the town” by withholding water from current residents.
For decades, previous boards have struggled with the challenge of finding the right solution to our perennial water supply problems. Projects have been proposed, dissected and eventually abandoned, either by professional analysis or, more often, by an electorate convinced that the end is near for our little town if new water is produced.
This year, I believe the CCSD election must be about choosing directors with a can-do attitude who provide the leadership necessary to assure that Cambria has adequate services to sustain our quality of life. We are doing just that, with water at the top of the list.
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Our board has completed the necessary regulatory steps and received community support to raise rates to build a water project that will give some relief in future droughts. With additional permitting, we will be able to supplement water production during annual dry seasons, a positive solution that will help us avoid future emergency restrictions and reduce pumping from our local creeks. That’s good for people and good for the environment.
We are also excited about innovations from local ranchers piloting aquifer recharge projects on their land, and we have bladder storage in the works to save water — options that avoid major permitting hurdles and can help tremendously in the near-term.
Know, also, that we have not given up on a long-term water solution — far from it. We will continue to pursue the right project for our community and, like the emergency project we have already achieved, work tirelessly to get the job done.
As in elections everywhere, “facts” are strewn about like pine pollen in the wind. Fear tactics run rampant. And claims of incumbent wrongdoings circulate freely. Our current election is no different.
This is a new experience for me, running for re-election. I am rightly judged by my record and running against some pretty serious and inaccurate accusations. Some say we make decisions in “secret.” That we use bait-and-switch tactics. And my favorite, that our bank loan is putting the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve in jeopardy of resale for development.
I personally explored the option of a $1.5 million portable desalination plant, found it unfeasible as a quick enough solution for our emergency and then supported the current more expensive option. This was discussed and voted on at a public meeting. Our loan for the plant is a normal bank loan with a good interest rate. The Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is in no financial jeopardy and is preserved from development in perpetuity by a conservation easement.
Our road to water solutions is bumpy. There are many obstacles in our way. But working together as a community, we can secure a future where Cambria not only survives, but thrives. I look forward to being a part of making it happen.