The Cambrian

Desal test review today

Desalination supporters and detractors are expected to speak out again today about environmental impacts of testing needed as part of desalination plant planning.

The Cambria Community Services District’s Board of Directors is expected to review and likely approve a study saying installation of three monitoring test wells and another seven core-sample sites near the mouth of Santa Rosa Creek will not significantly affect the surrounding coastal habitat.

Cambria is so often short of water that district directors declared a water emergency in Nov. 2001 and, with a few exceptions, stopped handing out new water connections. The district has been investigating desalination as a drought-proof source of water.

The proposed $733,000 geotechnical and hydrogeologic tests could determine if pumps can pull enough seawater from under the sandy shoreline to supply the proposed desalination plant, which would likely be located elsewhere. Previous plans have called for the plant to be built on district-owned property near San Simeon Creek, east of San Simeon Campground.

It’s expected that when plans for a plant are complete, they’ll be subject to a full environmental impact

report and stringent review process.

Today’s CCSD directors meeting begins at 12:30 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.

The California Coastal Commission also must agree with that assessment before the tests can proceed. District director Greg Sanders said Tuesday, Feb. 23, the issue might be on the commission’s April agenda.

At today’s district meeting, however, if people raise issues “that haven’t been addressed yet, we may have to continue the decision until they can be addressed,” Sanders said.

The Army Corps of Engineers is partnering with the district on the desalination project because Congress has approved spending $10.3 million in federal money on a plant that could ultimately cost more than $20 million.