The Cambrian

CCSD retools its water retrofit program

Cambria services district directors plugged a potential leak in the Retrofit Program’s offer for potential developers to pay a fee in lieu of actually replacing water-wasting plumbing fixtures in other people’s homes and businesses with new, water-conserving devices.

Tim Carmel, counsel for the Cambria Community Services District, reminded the board Oct. 25 that, “Mere payment of fees doesn’t conserve water,” which is the district’s ultimate aim.

To prove to county and state regulators that the program truly works, he said, the district must have “demonstrable water savings.”

The Retrofit Program is a complex process that, according to district staff, assigns “points” when people do the retrofits that are required when, for instance, they add more water-using fixtures or sell a home. Those points can rack up quickly, especially for larger projects or commercial accounts that use a lot of water.

According to District Engineer Bob Gresens, the district “banks” those points until someone else wants to build a home or business and pays a fee of $50 per point in lieu of actually retrofitting fixtures in other buildings, such as installing flow reducers on showers and sinks and installing low-flow toilets in place of those that use more water.

According to an equivalency chart, about 100 points are needed for someone to build a two-bath house on a parcel under 4,000 square feet. That in-lieu fee would be about $5,000, Gresens said. The fees apply toward large-scale water-conservation projects, such as retrofitting the middle school with waterless urinals.

Now, because of the directors’ unanimous vote Oct. 25, General Manager Jerry Gruber will have the discretion to suspend the Retrofit Program’s in-lieu fee clause if the points bank runs low.

The issue arose recently when it appeared that the points bank had run dry, as was reported in the Oct. 25 staff report on the retrofit in-lieu program. However, a detailed, subsequent case-by-case internal audit of district records showed bank records hadn’t been kept or tallied accurately, especially for points accumulated after retrofits of existing homes being sold.

Gruber said the bank has a current balance of about 100 points.

The district may include in some future bills a survey to determine which residents are interested in having their homes retrofitted.