Water board shuts down Cambria's brine pond



The Cambria Community Services District (CCSD) has been ordered to cease operating the brine pond connected to its controversial water facility and come up with a plan to get rid of the waste its holding by Aug. 14.

The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board made the decision to issue a cease and desist order against the pond at a July 13 hearing in Watsonville. The board started investigating the pond—which collects discharge and other waste from the sustainable water facility located next to San Simeon State Park campgrounds—after flooding occurred at the facility in January and March.

Released on July 18, the order stated "the work plan shall include a timeline for removing all wastes from the surface impoundment [brine pond] at the earliest possible date, but not exceed five years."

Failure to comply with the order may result in a fine of up to $1,000 per violation per day.

"The cease and desist order was issued on the grounds that the facility has multiple design flaws and is not considered compliant with Title 27 design requirements," said Jon Rokke from the water board.

CCSD board Vice President Greg Sanders said that the board was already looking into decommissioning the brine pond.

"The only issue we had was a plan on emptying the pond, but we're working on a plan and are satisfied with the water board decision," Sanders said.

The water board issued a civil liability complaint and fine against the CCSD in February for chronic late submittals of monitoring reports regarding the pond between November 2015 and January 2017. The CCSD has paid the fine in full, $53,596.

The district is still working toward certifying the water facility's environmental impact report (EIR) to get a regular coastal development permit.

The CCSD board will discuss certification its next July 27 meeting.

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