T he public has another chance to weigh in on which potential project(s) are best for providing Cambria with more fresh water. The workshop session is to start at 1 p.m. Thursday, July 19, in the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.
The Cambria Community Services District’s meeting is to explain further how various technical factors could affect each project, and get the public’s input. 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.
The meeting is aimed at, according to district Engineer Robert Gresens, “soliticing more public input into the process, tryinring to make it as trasparent as possible, before they do the technical report.”
Members of the community at a June 14 workshop helped to grade criteria to be used to judge—and rank — the various projects. The public selected environmental concerns, cost effectiveness and reliability as the most important factors.
Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) consultants said they’d 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 desalting ocean or brackish water.
Projects that make the final cut are to be studied in formal environmental reports ACE consultants are to 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.
Because federal funds allocated by Congress would help pay for a proposed desalination plant, ACE is the district’s mandatory partner in designing and building the plant.
CCSD officials said in a July 10 media release that the upcoming meeting is to “further discuss the technical evaluation criteria, the relative importance (a. k.a. weighting) to consider on the technical criteria, and the status of planning-level cost estimates.”
While no other details about the July 19 meeting were available at press deadline, district board members had given staff some guidelines during the June workshop and at the district’s June 28 board meeting.
District Director Muril Clift said June 28 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.”
The district has pursued desalination for a couple of decades. A previously permitted plant was shelved after the electorate in 1996 voted out the board majority that had approved the project. State agencies, including the California Coastal Commission, have since shot down two studies about other projects that would have drawn salty water from near the mouth of San Simeon or Santa Rosa creeks.
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.”
Directors hope those solutions will be the ones on the table at the July 19 meeting.
For details, contact district Engineer Robert Gresens at 927-6223 or bgre firstname.lastname@example.org. —Kathe Tanner