The Cambrian

Water plant EIR target ‘in or around August’

The Cambria Community Services District expects the environmental impact report on the Sustainable Water Facilty to be complete around August.
The Cambria Community Services District expects the environmental impact report on the Sustainable Water Facilty to be complete around August.

Cambria Community Services District officials have repeatedly said that a consultant’s work is proceeding apace on extensive documents detailing any environmental impacts from and mitigation for the community’s Sustainable Water Facility (formerly the Emergency Water Supply Project).

The Environmental Impact Report is required as part of the district’s application for a permanent permit to operate the $13 million plant on district property off San Simeon Creek Road. The plant was constructed in 2014 under an emergency permit from the county because the district said the drought-impacted community could have run out of water. That permit allowed the district to operate the plant under declared water-shortage emergencies.

The Cambrian has been pressing CSD officials for an update on the EIR and when it might be available for public review, including at an April 7 conference with General Manager Jerry Gruber, spokesman Tom Gray and Gail Robinette and Greg Sanders, respectively Board of Directors president and board member.

This email arrived Tuesday, April 12. For easier reading, The Cambrian has replaced some acronyms with full names or descriptions:

“The Sustainable Water Facility’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is progressing at a pace that should produce a draft EIR in or around August.

“But we won’t be sacrificing thoroughness for speed. Our goal is to produce an EIR that covers all the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements and will stand up to legal challenge. The draft will only be released when we are satisfied that the EIR is as solid as we can make it.

“The decision to revisit and update the (district’s) Buildout Reduction Plan (BRP) is motivated solely by the fact that the sustainable water facility’s EIR must account for the potential growth-inducing impacts of the project and explain how these impacts will be mitigated.

“Under CEQA, the plant is inherently ‘growth-inducing’ because it relieves a water shortage that has been a constraint on growth.

“The BRP is existing CCSD policy, adopted in 2008 as part of the water master plan. Updating it does not signal any plan to change current policy regarding the water waitlist and the moratorium.

“The BRP sets a cap of 4,650 on total water hookups (about 18 percent more than the current level) and prescribes a mechanism for financing the retirement of buildable lots beyond the growth limit. It needs to be updated in two key areas in particular: Financing and data on buildable lots.”

Making sure the district prepares a comprehensive EIR for its sustainable water facility is at the heart of a long-running lawsuit against the district by LandWatch of San Luis Obispo County and the Stanford Law Clinic, according to Stanford attorney Deborah Sivas.

According to Patrick O’Reilly, the services district’s finance officer, through March 31, the district had spent $216,945 defending itself against the lawsuit.

The next hearing date for that lawsuit is May 27, according to district officials.