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Cambria puts the brakes on its permanent water facility 

Cambria placed a hold on its plans to make an emergency water facility permanent on June 14.

click to enlarge PERMANENT Cambria’s sustainable water facility sits just behind San Simeon Campground Creek Campground - PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • PERMANENT Cambria’s sustainable water facility sits just behind San Simeon Campground Creek Campground

The Cambria Community Services District board delayed certification of the facility's environmental impact report after uploading the project's newest supporting documents to its website the night before the meeting—giving interested agencies and the public little time to review them.

The documents in question supported the project's final environmental impact report, recommending that the district's board certify it so the plant can become a permanent fixture of Cambria's water supply. The public, local organizations, and state agencies submitted more than 200 letters when the draft EIR was released for comment in August 2016, raising concerns with the project.

Rita Garcia, project manager and part of the consulting firm Michael Baker International—which prepared the EIR—said the final report was released in May of this year with edits. The firm and the district also submitted response letters to public agencies addressing those initial concerns.

She gave a short presentation to the board on June 14 that concluded the document was ready for certification, adding that the comment letters that were submitted didn't have enough of an impact to warrant circulation of another draft of the EIR.

"The draft conclusions remain valid," Garcia said.

The main topic of discussion at the June 14 meeting was a modification in the project's final plan that calls for an evaporation pond to be converted into a water storage basin with its own pump station and surface water treatment plant. But the estimated cost wasn't addressed at the meeting.

Amanda Rice, the board's president, said the water rates passed in 2014 to cover the facility's cost of operations didn't take additional project modifications into consideration.

"It did not contemplate some of the additional project modifications that are in this specific EIR, and I do think that's an issue that the board needs to look at," Rice said.

Greg Sanders, the board's vice president, told New Times that the district staff has an estimate of what the new modifications are.

"We have a ballpark estimate of how much the removal of the pond would be, but there isn't a contract yet so we can't have an exact cost just yet," he said. "We need to take this one step at a time."

The discussion will be taken up again at the July 27 meeting.

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