The Cambrian

Cambria water plant operator contract approved by CCSD

When Cambria’s nearly $9 million water-supply project goes online, the experienced person in charge will have a state-issued, so-called “T-3 certification” that allows him or her to be the chief plant operator, according to a contract unanimously approved by Cambria services district directors Oct. 23.

Estimated contract cost is about $136,300. That includes lodging for the operator, who will be an employee of CDM Constructors Inc. (CCI), a construction arm of the firm that designed the Cambria Community Services District plant. 

As calculated by General Manager Jerry Gruber, the contract pencils out to about $200 an hour. He said at the Oct. 23 meeting, “I kind of gasped a bit at the amount,” but recognized that the fee covers more than just the payment for one person’s work. That person will “have the entire staff of CDM Smith behind them.”

Also, the scope of work includes some things the Department of Public Drinking Water wants,” and will assure that proper operating protocol is in place for “a highly technical plant” that’s to draw a blend of salty, brackish and fresh water and treated wastewater from beneath district property on San Simeon Creek Road. 

The water will be treated by several different processes before being put back in the ground to recharge the aquifer, supply district wells and feed some water into the creek and lagoon. The plant is estimated to be complete by Nov. 14. Gruber said the operator’s level of expertise is crucial. 

“The individual we’ve targeted has lots of experience,” he said. 

CDM Smith also is guiding the process of converting the water-reclamation plant’s permit from a temporary drought-related one granted on an emergency basis by the county to a permanent permit approved by the county and several agencies that regulate projects affecting the environment, wildlife, air quality and other factors.

The three-month contract includes initial startup, operation, monitoring of water quality, sampling and maintenance, plus extensive training of the district’s three T-3 operators. The contract person also is to create an operations manual for the plant, provide remote, on-call support for weekend hours, handle any warranty issues and coordinate maintenance and repairs with the CCI construction team.

Cambria is under Stage 3 drought emergency restrictions. Residents are limited to about 50 gallons of water per day per person, outdoor irrigation with municipal water is forbidden, and there are other limitations and surcharges for water use beyond assigned allocations.