Cambrian: Opinion

Could Cambria’s water sources actually dry up?

Pickups line up Saturday, July 19, to fill tanks with nonpotable water at the station on Rodeo Grounds Road.
Pickups line up Saturday, July 19, to fill tanks with nonpotable water at the station on Rodeo Grounds Road. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Typically, when squeezing toothpaste from a new tube, I’m comfortable covering all the bristles. But when the tube shrinks down to half size or so, old father economy takes over and I cover less than half the brush.

So it goes — when we have plenty, thrift is irrelevant. Meanwhile, when it comes to water resources in Cambria, until the recent CCSD crackdown on water use, many among us enjoyed long luxurious showers and watered outside as though we live in a rainforest.

But now that stiff penalties are levied for over-use — and every other pickup truck in town is hauling a water tank — this drought has become serious stuff.

A reporter visiting Cambria’s rodeo grounds July 15 witnessed a nonstop stream of vehicles arriving to fill those ubiquitous translucent tanks with CCSD’s nonpotable water (at a penny a gallon for those who actually paid).

Drivers were asked: “Could water supplies in Cambria actually run dry?”

While filling a huge tank for his grounds crew gig, three-year Cambria resident Alek Speck replied: “Yes, it’s a real possibility that we could run out of water, and not just in Cambria, but the state of California could run out of water.”“Personally, I would be out of a job,” Speck explained. “However, with certain regulations, I believe we could extend the supply of water.”

Roberto Mercado has a landscaping company and regularly fills his tanks.

Could Cambria’s water run dry?

“We don’t know about that,” the 35-year resident said. “We don’t know what’s left in the ground. But if water runs out, we’d have to run away, I guess,” Mercado said with a smile. “If there’s no water, there’s no life. Water is the number one thing we need to have.”

Don Sather backed his truck to the hoses and began drawing water.

Asked the question of the day, he said, “It’s always a possibility. However, if we support the CCSD in their current project for temporary desalination, I’m sure we’re going to be OK.

“You have to maintain a positive attitude. It will take overcoming the attitude of the CAVE people — Cambrians against virtually everything,” Sather made clear. “If we get through this emergency, we’ll be OK.”

Local nursery entrepreneur Beverly Holt filled a 125-gallon tank and offered her opinion: “The water situation has been mismanaged for years here, and if we run out it’s a crying shame. Will we run out? Only the powers that be actually know, and I’m speaking of Mother Nature, not the CCSD.”

“Yes, absolutely,” Cambria’s water sources could dry up, Mike Stilson said as he pumped water into his 100-gallon tank. “It would be terrible. Water is a necessity of life — we can’t survive without it.”

Stilson’s wife “loves her flowers,” and the family carries pails “up to the bathroom to flush toilets,” hence his occasional trips to the rodeo grounds.

Bob Wilson moved to Lodge Hill six months ago and he “experienced the water shortage right off the bat.” He doesn’t believe Cambria could run out of water, and he regrets that while the CCSD announces, “ ‘We’re going to increase your taxes on water,’ ” helpful water resource information is not forthcoming.

For the moment, while this reporter conserves toothpaste, the community is calling on its leaders to flesh out farsighted water-saving strategies that have some teeth in them.

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