Cambria switches off its water treatment facility



No longer in a water emergency, the Cambria Community Services District (CCSD) voted to lift a stage 3 emergency declaration that’s been in place since 2014.

While water conservation is still in full effect within the district, under the new stage 2 declaration, residents will be able to irrigate their property and use potable water to refill pools and decorative fountains.

During the March 23 meeting, board member Harry Farmer did not vote to lift the stage 3 declaration and said that if the responsibility for water conservation is taken away, people might feel they can use as much water as they want.

District board President Amanda Rice said she believes that Cambria has a firm grasp on the need to continue conserving water.

“The community is very clear on our water situation and is clear on using water wisely. For the most part, they have shown an amazing amount of resilience as the board continues to impose or change restrictions depending on the current situation,” she said.

The board will consider removing any label that indicates the community is in a water shortage in May or June when it has a clear reading of the well and aquifer levels. Both must be full enough to provide water to the community through the summer season.

Lifting the stage 3 emergency also halts the operations of the community’s controversial and costly water treatment facility. The water emergency enabled the CCSD to create the Emergency Water Supply Project (renamed Sustainable Water Facility)—a $14 million facility that treats brackish water through a reverse osmosis process to provide its residents with potable water.

Tim Carmel, legal counsel for the district, said if Cambria were to declare another stage 3 local water emergency, then the facility could start up again. The facility could also run full time (without the emergency declaration) if the district can get a permanent development permit, which the district is still currently working on.

Rice said that she doesn’t see the district getting the permit in hand any time soon.

“It will be a few years until we can get that permit, so unless we declare another necessary stage 3, we won’t be running the facility,” she said.

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