The Cambrian

Results are in from Cambria water tracer study

Results are in from a two-month “tracer study” that Cambria’s services district commissioned to confirm that water treated in its emergency supply project will be safe to drink once it flows into district wells.

The Cambria Community Services District released those results Tuesday, Oct. 21.

The test traced how long it took for bromide-laced water injected near the district’s San Simeon Creek well field to reach two production wells that provide much of the town’s potable water. State regulators require that it take at least two months for that flow.

While the travel time to the most distant well was within the required parameters, according to the report of more than 300 pages, travel time to the closer well was three days short of the minimum for a Title 22 operating permit from the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.

That board is to hold a crucial hearing for the permit at its Nov. 14-15 meeting in San Luis Obispo. 

According to information released by the district, the test found that, at the test rate of 454 gallons per minute injected into and withdrawn from the aquifer, the travel time was more than two months to production well SS-1 and 57 days to the closer production well, SS-2. 

Based on those findings, the district reported, consultants have updated and rerun under various scenarios the hydrogeological model for operating the plant. The district’s statement said, “It was found that injection and extraction could be run at a rate of up to 400 gpm while maintaining a travel time of at least 60 days for both intake wells.”

The district will submit the revised modeling in the application for the Title 22 permit and the project’s operating plan. 

Based on the results, General Manager Jerry Gruber said, “the emergency water-supply project has passed another key milestone on its way to completion and full operation.”

He said the test was intentionally run at a relatively high rate, and that the slightly lower 400 gpm limit still will enable the project to produce an adequate supply of dry-season water. 

Gruber added, “The tracer test was a success because it confirmed that the project will safely provide the drought protection that this community needs.”

The district has posted the tracer-test report at, on the home page under the “Projects” tab and “Emergency  Water Supply — Home.”