C4H20, aka Cambrians For Water, and their candidates for Cambria Community Services District (CSD) office are spewing more misinformation. Their claim to fame is they are pro-water. Everyone in Cambria wants water, obviously. We are all "pro-water." My choices for the CSD, Donn Howell and Dennis Perry, are "pro-water." The pond turtles and fishes and egrets are "pro-water." No one wants to haul water in buckets and fall flat on their backs lifting heavy pails of water to water their roses. How we got that water, how much it cost, how it would be permitted, who paid for that water, and who will use that water has always been in contention. The other contentious issue will always be: How will taking this water out of Santa Rosa and San Simeon creeks affect our wildlife?
None of those serious, complex and critical issues were answered in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, or 2018. The CSD never got the right permits for their "emergency" water project. Several issues with the project should have been answered prior to building it, not afterward.
But C4H20 got their way.
CSD board members and their cohorts, C4H20, claimed this new water supply would cost between $1 million and $4 million. They claimed it would only be used during a stage 3 water emergency. They claimed it was only for existing residents. They claimed it would not be used for growth. They claimed it was "water security" or an insurance policy against running out of water in the future. They claimed it would not harm our environment or take resources from the wildlife that depend on water in our coastal creeks. None of these claims proved to be true.
C4H2O misrepresented the truth. It is not telling the truth in the emails it sends to its followers, and C4H2O endorsed candidates should be ashamed of themselves, as should the organization. The water project ended up costing more than $13 million. Our rates are going up year after year with no end in sight. The brine pond was supposed to be able to withstand a 1,000-year flood event. It didn't make it through one year of rainfall. The project was supposed to deliver 250 acre-feet of drinking water in six months. It is not working properly, and everyone knows it. It is now rusting away day and night in the salty sea air because it was never finished, because they ran out of money. We can't turn it on because it costs too much to run it. We haven't even started having the hearings we will all need to attend to figure out what we can do about it.
The first thing the CSD did was change the name of this water supply to open up the building waitlist for growth. That's a bait-and-switch. How does adding more homes to the community ensure our water security when the project isn't even up and running? How does adding more homes ensure this water supply becomes "insurance against future droughts" when the project isn't even permitted? How will adding more demands on water supply protect the fishes and pond turtles and red-legged frogs when permits have not been obtained from U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, or the California Coastal Commission yet? How does adding more homes protect residents?
The short answer is, it doesn't. We are all paying for propaganda, the CSD's failure to deliver on promises, and its public relations machine called C4H20.
Cambrians will now be forced to turn back to the Dark Ages of hauling water in buckets once again while new homes are being built. Residents on fixed incomes are going broke trying to pay for a rushed project that doesn't work. Our bank accounts are drained to try to fix all the problems that continue to be disguised by the pro-growth element in town. The same people are still supporting the same failed policies that got us into this mess in the first place.
I will not vote for more of the same. I will oppose all rate increases because I do not approve of how the CSD is spending my money. The CSD needs to clean house. The exodus of the district's general manager, Jerry Gruber, and its district engineer, Bob Gresens, is a start but much more needs to be done.
I will vote for district board candidates Howell and Perry to try to bring some sense of financial accountability back to our water and sewer district, if it isn't too late. Δ
Mary Webb writes from Cambria. Send comments through the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.