The Cambrian

San Simeon CSD expects transition to be smooth

The San Simeon services district has a new management firm, but the staff remains the same.

That’s good news for townspeople who were worried that employees in a different firm — people unfamiliar with the community and its water-and-sewage issues — would have had a steep learning curve.

Directors of the San Simeon Community Services District voted unanimously Aug. 13 to hire Grace Environmental Services to take over from Ultura Water, which apparently is getting out of the management business, according to district General Manager Charles Grace.

He has launched his own firm, Grace Environmental Services, to take over the district’s management with the help of Office Administrator Renee Samaniego-Lundy, plant Superintendent Jerry Copeland and plant technician Mike Arias. All were Ultura employees before the switch.

“Boy, are we lucky,” said Alan Fields, a district director. “Those people and their loyalty to us that’s something you just don’t find these days.” The district keeps “four people who know their jobs, and who are independent.”

Fields said Grace “gave us a heck of a deal” with a monthly charge that matches what Ultura was going to charge, and no increases for two years.

San Simeon will pay Grace Environmental slightly more than $47,000 a month, up from about $41,000 a month for Ultura. The increase is in part because in April, a part-time employee was hired fulltime at the plant, in anticipation of the extra work involved with the recycled water system. It’s also related to increased water sampling costs to meet government requirements.

The monthly payment pays for the day-to-day operation of the district, from employee salaries, utility bills, office and maintenance supplies and chemicals to everyday repairs to the sewage-treatment plant and water-distribution system, basic road repairs and fees for water sampling and other tests.

Other costs, such as legal fees, one-time repairs, construction projects, engineering and any fines, are not covered.

Grace said his primary focus is preparing for any water shortages or other emergencies that might arise as a result of the drought, a process that includes close monitoring of chloride levels in the water the town does have.