The Cambrian

Drought grant may not bring Cambria as much money as hoped

Cambria’s application for state drought-grant funds may yet be approved, but a county official says it isn’t likely to be for the $3.75 million requested to help pay for a nearly $9 million water-reclamation project.

The project, intended to provide an emergency source of water to the community, is under construction and due to be complete by Nov. 14.

The same probable outcome applies to drought-related water-supply projects in four other areas of the county; all five had been submitted in a package, as required by the state. 

For instance, San Simeon had requested $3.5 million for a purple-pipe distribution system to deliver recycled water to customers for irrigation and other purposes, reducing the impact on drinking-water supplies. 

The county’s grant request initially was disqualified from state consideration because of a communications or paperwork glitch. 

After feverish negotiations between officials at the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) and those at county and the involved community agencies, the state rescinded the disqualification.

The application was deemed compliant, but the state already had published a tentative list of winning applicants, and that list didn’t include San Luis Obispo County. 

Dave Flynn, deputy director for county Public Works, said the DWR will assess potential funding allocations over the coming weeks, but he noted limited funding is available, so the county’s requests might not be fully funded.

In an email interview Oct. 8, Flynn wrote that he “confirmed this morning with DWR staff that our package qualifies.” He said the state’s department “is looking at directing some additional funding to this grant cycle and would be meeting internally,” probably during the week of Oct. 13-17 “to determine a proposed final project list, with a final release the end of October” or early November.

Flynn said the “Central Coast multi-county region has a cap of $19 million total for grant distribution under the program criteria.” He said he didn’t expect that would change, but the state might alter “the amount of distribution to the ranked projects within the region.” That could mean that this county might get “at most a third of the $19 million.”

The county’s five-project grant package totaled approximately $12 million.