If you’re dealing with low water pressure Tuesday, June 27, in Cambria, it’s likely because the services district is repairing a major leak discovered behind the Bluebird Inn.
The district said in a news release that residents of the Pine Knolls neighborhood would experience “very low water pressure” (less than 10 pound-force per square inch, or psi) between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. as the district works on the leak.
Jerry Gruber, services district general manager, said in an email Monday afternoon that about 200 homes would be affected. He said residents would be alerted via door hangers, information on the district website and a news release.
“You will have enough water pressure to turn on a tap and flush a toilet,” the release stated. “The tap will be a slow stream, and the toilet tank will fill much more slowly than usual. It is unlikely you will have enough water pressure for showering.”
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Reducing water pressure to the Pine Knolls area, Gruber said, would “allow staff to continue to excavate the area and hopefully locate the portion of the distribution system that needs repair. The leak is very deep, and at this point in time not accessible.”
Meanwhile, he said, the district was in contact with Rain for Rent, which is installing a temporary water line to bypass the broken area; it will be laid on the existing pedestrian bridge.
“We want to have a long term backup plan in case our efforts tomorrow do not result in repairs to the pipe or if the needed parts to make the repairs are not readily available — within 24 hours,” he said.
Discovering the leak
The leak behind was discovered by three local hikers Sunday on Santa Rosa Creek on Sunday, who came upon what Dianne Brooke said “looked like a beautiful waterfall coming off the bluff above them.”
Landscaper Shana McCormick leaned down to smell the water and said it was treated water. Companions Stephanie Arehart and Brooke agreed, noting bubbles and the fact that there were no springs in that area — at least none that would pump out that much water.
McCormick alerted Jason Buhl, CCSD water systems supervisor, to the breech.
Buhl said he’d been sleepless, trying to figure out why the Stuart Street water tanks wouldn’t fill up.
“I knew we had a problem,” he said. “It must have broken in the middle of the night Saturday night. I started driving around, checking several gauges and possible spots. I was actually ready to put on my boots and walk the creek myself when Shana called.”
Buhl found the break along the creek behind the motel.
Tim Winsor of Winsor Construction came out personally to work the creek bank, as his crew was engaged with the Big Sur slides to the north. Plumber Bob Wright was also there to figure out how to best correct the problem.
“The field next to the Bluebird has about 10 years of accumulated backfill that folks just have kind of dumped there,” Buhl said. “Tim has to move it and compact it before he can get closer to the creek so he doesn’t tip over, because it’s so soft.
Wright said the willows growing along the creek can often grow around pipes and just lift and crack them over the years.
The field next to the Bluebird has about 10 years of accumulated backfill that folks just have kind of dumped there.
Jason Buhl, CCSD water systems supervisor
Up to their thighs in mud, Wright and Water Department worker Ben Grosskreutz struggled Monday to hand-dig within the trenches Winsor cleared for them to find the exact point of breech — not an easy task with ivy and shrubs tangled in the mix.
“The original water system was built at the Rodeo Grounds — the panels and equipment there are outdated, and we do our best to keep up with the stuff that breaks,” Buhl said. “It’s not surprising we would have compromises given the age of things.”
Cambria streets affected by low water pressure from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 27: Ashby, Greystone, Iva, Pinewood, Weymouth, Canterbury, Grove, Manor, Suffolk, Coventry, Hartford, Northampton, Sunbury, Darby, Hillcrest, Oakhurst, Warwick.
The CCSD advised residents to call the district office at 805-927-6223 with questions or comments. For those calling after 4 p.m., an answering service will take a message and a CCSD representative will return the call Wednesday.