The Cambrian

Cambria water leak too deep underground for a quick fix

Jason Buhl, the CCSD’s water systems supervisor, right, supervises preliminary work at the leak site earlier this week.
Jason Buhl, the CCSD’s water systems supervisor, right, supervises preliminary work at the leak site earlier this week.

It won’t be an easy matter to fix a major water leak behind Cambria’s Bluebird Inn, along Santa Rosa Creek. In fact, a permanent fix could take a month.

Jerry Gruber, general manager of town’s services district, said the pipe is so deep underground that it’s making repairs difficult. The district had hoped to excavate the leak and make the necessary repairs, Gruber said.

“Unfortunately, based on the depth of the pipe — approximately 25 to 28 feet deep — that is no longer an option,” he wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon.

Instead, he said, the district is bringing in temporary piping from Rain For Rent.

“If everything goes as planned, we anticipate having the temporary line in place by Friday afternoon,” Gruber wrote in his email. “We anticipate having the permanent piping in place within a one-month period of time.”

Gruber had no cost estimates Wednesday afternoon for the temporary or permanent measures.

Gruber said the Water Department has been “throttling back some valves late at night” to significantly cut down on the amount of water being lost. That measure, he said, is saving about 100,000 gallons a day — which means still more on top of that is being lost.

How much is unclear. Gruber said it was “difficult to determine at this time ... due to all the leaks we have been repairing lately.”

The Cambria Community Services District has struggled with leaks in the aftermath of heavy rains this winter. Gruber told CCSD directors at their June 22 board meeting that the district had repaired 14 leaks since May 1, some of which he said were “substantial.”

Gruber told the board that the district’s unaccounted for water was 41 percent in April and 39 percent in May, compared with a 10 percent industry average and a 13.2 percent figure for 2016.

If everything goes as planned, we anticipate having the temporary line in place by Friday afternoon. We anticipate having the permanent piping in place within a one-month period of time.

Jerry Gruber, CCSD general manager

In response to the leak behind the Bluebird, the district has applied to the county for an Emergency Coastal Development Permit and is also seeking other permits, Gruber said.

Biologists from the district and the Department of Fish and Wildlife visited the Santa Rosa Creek site Wednesday to survey measures the district is taking to reduce possible environmental impacts from the leak, he said. These include putting a large bag of sodium thiosulfate — which dechlorinates the water before it enters the creek — on top of the leak. In addition, he said, “organic waddles” have been installed to capture sediment before it can enter the creek.

“Both biologists,” Gruber said, “were very pleased with our efforts.”

The leak behind was discovered Sunday by three local hikers, who alerted Jason Buhl, the CCSD’s water systems supervisor.

It led the district to cut water pressure significantly to the Pine Knolls neighborhood for most of the day Wednesday.

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