Cambria to weigh water options

The public has another chance Thursday to weigh in on which potential project or combination of projects would best provide Cambria with more fresh water.

The Cambria Community Services District is hosting the meeting to explain how various technical factors could affect each project and to get public input on how to evaluate the options.

One or more of the projects, including desalination, could augment the town’s stock of fresh water and allow the board to remove a 2001 water-emergency declaration that has stopped nearly all new building since then.

According to District Engineer Robert Gresens, the meeting is aimed at “soliciting more public input into the process, trying to make it as transparent as possible before they do the technical report.”

Members of the community at a June 14 workshop helped grade criteria to be used to rank various projects. The public selected environmental concerns, cost effectiveness and reliability as the most important factors.

Army Corps of Engineers consultants said they had begun the weeding-out process with about 30 different project options on the table. By the June workshop, they had whittled that list down to a dozen concepts, most of them involving some variant of desalinating ocean or brackish water.

Projects that make the final cut are to be studied in formal environmental reports that ACE consultants will prepare.

ACE staffers had been expected to attend the July 19 workshop but likely will not be there. However, a facilitator working under an existing consulting contract being administered by the corps is expected to attend.

District Director Muril Clift said June 28 that he doesn’t want a repeat of previous ACE workshops, in which the presentation focused on what he defined as “four brands of vanilla and oh, maybe, we have another idea. I would surely like to see a reasonable range of alternatives not four desal ideas and one other. They can have four desals if they want, but I want to see four or five others, even if they’re not within the funding range.”

Board members still express support for desalination. However, they say, desalination is not the only option. There are, according to Board President Allan MacKinnon, “many possible solutions along the way to give us what we need for the future.”

The workshop is set to start at 1 p.m. Thursday in the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St., Cambria.

For details, email District Engineer Robert Gresens at bgresens@cambriacsd.org or call 927-6223.