Cambrian: Opinion

Letters to the Editor Aug. 5 - 11

Desal as insurance?

M r. Crummit (July 22, “Desal as insurance”) incorrectly states that with the Buildout Reduction Program (BRP), “all rampant growth concerns among Cambrians should be alleviated.” Unlimited water equals unlimited growth. I sent Mr. Crummit minutes of meetings from San Simeon suggesting that buildout reduction is already being undermined by leaders at the Cambria Community Services District (CCSD). I also pointed out to him that the enticing 50 percent increase of water being promised to Cambrians under the guise of a “quality of life bonus” equals overcapacity of the plant. Do you really believe this excess water is for you to bathe luxuriously in your Roman tub or create waterfalls in your backyard?

Rampant growth is created by poor planning policies, and lack of transparency creates poor planning. When we continue on a path we’ve never voted on, we are obviously not in control of our own planning, are we? When our local North Coast Advisory Council can tell you where to point your garage lights, but doesn’t have a say in desalination, you know something is very wrong in paradise. When the CCSD bans its standing Utilities and Finance committees, lack of transparency is guaranteed and meetings can be held in private.

Desal will not help fight fire, according to former Fire Chief Putney in CCSD minutes of 2001. A fire in Cambria will not be fought trying to navigate giant fire trucks through our narrow winding streets carrying expensive desal water. First of all, electricity usually goes out in a fire. Desal relies on electricity, so the plant won’t be running. Cambrians will have to call upon Cal Fire using planes and helicopters to dip into a reservoir to fight any major fire here in town, just as they do in Santa Barbara. For those truly afraid of a fire, an inexpensive water storage pond should be first on your list of priorities.

Desal does not provide insurance or assurance. Mr. Crummit incorrectly states “the desal plant is our ‘alternative’ water source, never meant to be our main source of water.” Not according to Engineer Gresens, who created a Powerpoint explaining how Santa Rosa Creek wells will be retired to protect endangered steelhead trout, remember? According to the Water Master Plan, desal will run 227 days a year. We are trading in inexpensive groundwater extraction for expensive but unlimited ocean water desalting to promote growth and sell water meters

Pushing salt water through membranes to make drinking water is energy intensive and costly. Desal plants are not designed to be idle and they are only as reliable as your ability to pay for the energy usage! That makes them reliable in Saudi Arabia, where oil is free.

Anyone who looks backwards can read that the CCSD is repeating the same mistakes — choosing a plan of action without a vote, underestimating costs, completely and repeatedly ignoring the effects of its policies on the environment, and the CCSD’s lack of transparency has always been bad policy for Cambrians. I look forward to November when we elect two new leaders at the CCSD from members of the community who will preserve the character of our village, and our precious natural resources.

Mary Webb Cambria

Desal tech advances

Ms. Hyde’s letter (July 15, “Aussie rates doubling”) discussing the costs and problems associated with desalination was not supported by the statements and facts offered in the July 10 New York Times article from which she quoted.

Read in its entirety, the article is supportive of desal. Additionally, Ms. Hyde appears to have “Internet shopped” for worst-case examples to garner support for her anti-build position by exaggerating costs and failures.

The plant Ms. Hyde referred to was built for Perth (projected poplation 3.6 million) and is the world’s most expensive due to unique Australian regulations. Hardly comparable to Cambria. In re-

spect to costs, readers learned that as technology improved the per unit water cost decreased. What cost $1.70 per cubic meter to produce in 2006 now costs $1/CM using 2010 technology — including construction.

Also addressed in the N.Y. Times piece are several concerns recently penned by Mr. Figler and Ms. Hyde.

In respect to natural collection, Perth had constructed an $8 billion system to ward off the effects of drought. That effort failed.

Regarding conservation, Stuart White, Institute for Sustainable Futures director at the University of Technology, Sydney, states, “Even without restrictions, cities could easily save 20 percent of their water.”

In Cambria, that’s old news. Restrictions have been in place for years while numerous homes stand empty, yet our problems remain.

According to White, “cities should practice desalination readiness by drawing plans to build a plant, but should carry them out only as a last resort in the event of a severe drought.”

Unless we are prepared to further limit the property rights of fellow landowners, as Mr. Figler suggested (just buy an existing house) Cambria has reached Mr. White’s point of “last resort.”

Last, to clean up the finer points:

• Let readers not be misled, solar panels work on cloudy days and in fog belts.

•Morro Bay would not be renovating their plant if it were not cost effective.

• Shoddy materials, workmanship and planning in Yuma (and elsewhere) have little to do with projected costs of a yet-to-be designed plant built to different standards, constructed in a different region and using different technology.

• Santa Barbara did not decommission its plant.

• Better washing machines and landscape are not going to cut it—we done that.

• In a drought, which is less expensive—water trucks and private storage tanks? Or desal?

I also have cost concerns, but unlike Ms. Hyde, the more I read the less I am concerned. If the tests pan out, then it’s time to move forward.

Bradley Zane Cambria

Break for caregivers

I am writing to remind the Cambria community of a wonderful, under-used resource —Cambria Adult Resources Education and Support (CARES). The caring atmosphere and services available at CARES enhance the quality of life for the guests at our local senior daycare center, and give their caregivers a bit of respite during the week.

Physical exercise especially suited for seniors is led by Suraya Smith. The participants enjoy brain games which offer intellectual stimulation also. There are tasty snacks, and a healthy lunch is provided by Senior Nutrition.

Local musicians share their musical talents so that everyone gets to sing old-time songs, listen to piano, guitar, and flute music. The staff clearly enjoy being there, and make everyone feel welcome, as do the volunteers.

Various school groups, and individuals come and join in for holidays, making it a festive place to be. Educational programs are given to assist the volunteers, and inform the caregivers and community. CARES is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2700 Eton Road. You are invited to call 927-4290, and visit anytime to see how beneficial this special social time is for our local seniors.

Priscilla Mikesell Cambria

‘Best ever’ 927 Show

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all the businesses that supported out 927 Show.

It was the best one ever, and resulted in a nice donation to the Teen Center

Art Van Rhyn, coordinator

Prefix 927 Art Show

Half-baked straws

When I read the article, “Suit seeks halt to desal test drilling,” in The Cambrian (July 15), I was stirred by the comments made by the president of the CCSD Board of Directors. This poem sprang up. “Mix those metaphors!” “Ms. Hawley is grabbing at straws with half-baked legal theories

that have no merit.” —Greg Sanders When you set me up as a straw man,

I grab a stem of Bermuda


put it into the oven, bake it until it’s crisp, pull it out carefully, cool it,

and stick it into my head. Now I can grasp this theory: the final straw is the one that breaks the camel’s back. I grab another stem of Bermuda grass. Where’s the camel?

The lawsuit informs us of how CCSD and the Army Corps of Engineers work behind the scenes. It’s worth reading, ratepayers (go to html).

Elizabeth Bettenhausen Cambria