The Cambrian

Comments on Cambria's water-treatment plant due April 24

People and agencies have until Friday, April 24, to comment on draft documents that are likely to produce state orders to upgrade Cambria’s wastewater treatment plant so its effluent won’t continue to contaminate lower San Simeon Creek. 

How elaborate that upgrade will be and how much it will cost likely will depend on what requirements the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board puts on the Cambria Community Services District for the quality of water coming out of the plant on Park Hill, water that flows into the district’s effluent ponds and facilities on San Simeon Creek Road.

The draft document (“Total Maximum Daily Loads” or TMDL report) states that water board staff “considers the Cambria CSD treated wastewater discharge to be the sole source impacting surface and groundwater quality” in the lower creek.

Those elements in Cambria’s treated wastewater, which can damage the habitat and the creatures that depend on it, include nitrate, sodium and chloride, which impact the levels of dissolved oxygen in the water. 

For more about TMDL requirements, go to For the half-inch-thick San Simeon Creek report, go to coast/water_issues/pro grams/tmdl/docs/san_simeon_nitrate/index.shtml

After April 24, water board staff will review comments and update the draft as needed, submitting a revised draft report for further review.

The report would be finalized by a vote of the water board, perhaps by late summer 2015, after which the services district reportedly would have until Jan. 1, 2025, to make necessary changes to reduce the contamination to target levels.

Those plant upgrades could be very costly, according to district General Manager Jerry Gruber. He said in an April 6 phone interview he hopes the changes, and the required reductions in nitrate and other levels in the water, can be achieved gradually to give the district time to apply for grants and other funding.

Send comments on the TMDL to Howard Kolb at or 549-3332. He’s a water-resource control engineer for the water board’s watershed assessment unit.