Cambria’s municipal-water users have done a remarkable job of conserving water during the area’s stubborn, multiyear drought. Their drastically reduced water use often set state records, placing them among the state’s most water-thrifty consumers.
Most of the strict water-use restrictions the Cambria Community Services District has enforced during the Stage 3 water-shortage emergency remain in force, as does the emergency declaration. Those restrictions include strict allocations of how much water each account can use in a two-month billing period.
As the drought continued, stretching into four and five years, the district was between the watery rock and the drought hard place: still being required by the state and common sense to conserve water, but also dealing with drastically reduced income from water sales.
Faced with looming fire danger in the parched forest and landscape in August 2015, CCSD directors loosened a bit the ban on use of water from outdoor taps: Customers were allowed to irrigate their trees, shrubs and landscaping one specific day a week, based on address number.
In February this year, the directors put on hold having the district levy any penalties/surcharges for using more than those allocations.
Since those policy changes were approved, Cambrians’ water use has risen a bit, but is still well below the 25 percent drop in use the state had been requiring during the drought, based on usage during the baseline year of 2013.
Rates were increased in March, and that has helped reduce the income deficit, but those rates were based on district customers using about 70 percent of the water they did in 2013.
CCSD General Manager Jerry Gruber said in an email interview July 19 that water consumption is holding at 63 percent of 2013 usage by district customers.
District directors indicated in June that they want to review their surcharge policies again at their Aug. 25 meeting.