The Cambrian

CCSD conducts sound test for emergency water plant

It’s another busy week for Cambria’s services district, with a board meeting and hearing about environmental impacts of the emergency water supply project (EWS), a sound test for the plant, and a reply to a water board’s notice of violations. 

As a contractor prepares to shut down the Cambria Community Services District’s water-reclamation plant on or about April 10, concluding its three-month test run, the district’s directors want to hear the public’s comments about the plant, to be addressed in a study of its environmental impacts.

The Board of Directors is to hold a public scoping session Thursday, March 26 to gain input for the plant’s upcoming environmental impact report. If the plant is to get a permanent permit to operate, that study helps the project meet requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. 

At the meeting (to begin at 12:30 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.), Rita Garcia of RBF Consultants will explain the project and the EIR process before she takes comments from the public. It’s not to be a Q&A process, but it is an opportunity for ratepayers to voice their concerns.

Directors also are to consider declaring a state of emergency based on the “risk of a catastrophic fire” due to the drought and the condition of the town’s aging, trademark Monterey pine forest.

Tracer test and drought 

The emergency water supply project underwent its three-month test run under an emergency permit from the county. 

As long as the district remains under a drought-emergency declaration, that emergency permit also would apply when the plant is restarted late this summer for another test and, if needed, to provide water to the community. 

In the summertime test, a tracer element will be put into the water — as it was in a previous test — before it goes through the plant’s treatment process. District Director Muril Clift told North Coast Advisory Council (NCAC) members March 18 that during that test, the community will be able to use the water from the San Simeon Creek aquifer, which they weren’t able to do during last summer’s tracer study. 

Regulators “want to get a realistic test,” he said, of how long it would take, under dry-spell conditions, for water reinjected into the aquifer from the plant to reach the district’s supply wells. State regulators require a minimum travel time of 60 days. 

District General Manager Jerry Gruber said March 23 he expects the drought will deepen through this rain season and next fall. 

Noise test

Early in the plant’s three-month test run, the district received complaints about noise from five evaporator blowers, which ran 24 hours a day for a time. Now the district is operating the blowers one at a time, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Also this week, the EWS project was to have undergone a sound test requiring that the plant run for 24 hours a day, perhaps with all five blowers going for one night, Clift told NCAC members. He said county code enforcement officers were to oversee the test. 

Clift said the blowers, which are supposed to automatically shut off anytime wind speed is stronger than 3.9 mph, may continue to operate for a while after the plant shuts down April 10. 

Water board responses

And other task for this week: Gruber and district engineer Bob Gresens are to submit by Friday, March 27, CCSD’s responses to the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s notice of violations at the EWS plant. 

Gruber said Monday afternoon that the lengthy responses should be sent before the deadline, but declined to describe any of them before the water board receives the letter. 

He did say some of the required actions will come at an additional cost, such as a dechlorinating component the water board had determined was necessary. 

Gruber said designing that component will cost about $25,000 that wasn’t included in the original scope of work, and there’ll be additional costs for the component itself and installing it.