Cambria CSD considering water rationing

January 27, 2014

water2The Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors is considering declaring a drought emergency that will restrict the amount of water residents and businesses can use and impose hefty penalties on those exceeding the limits. [Tribune]

At a board meeting Thursday, district General Manager Jerry Gruber will recommend that the board declare a stage 3 drought emergency. If adopted, the water emergency would limit Cambria residents to 1,500 gallons per month. Most residents use 4,500 gallons of water or less each month.

Stage 3 drought restrictions also include a 500 percent surcharge on usage above monthly allotment and a ban on the use of potable water for landscaping and gardens. The emergency would restrict commercial users to approximately the same allotments as residences.

Gruber said in an email that Governor Jerry Brown’s recent drought declaration did not go far enough.

“I was disappointed that the drought emergency declared by the governor was only a voluntary 20 percent reduction,” Gruber said. “I think it is too little too late. I will be recommending to the board that we go immediately to a stage 3 drought emergency.”

Gruber also said he would discuss emergency supply sources at the meeting Thursday.

The board will meet at 12:30 p.m. in the Veterans Memorial Building in Cambria.


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Maybe hotels can stop renting half of their rooms, locals can stop watering their grass or just raise the water rates now and save the dance.

Perhaps a better business model would be to require that the hotels in the area would be required to have signage in their rooms informing the guests of our dire water situation asking the guests to be water frugal; I am pretty frugal with my water (and all other services, electricity, gas, so on) and when I travel, I keep those frugal habits with me. The hotel signage could include some suggestions for those who have no ideal on how to be more water frugal; like not running the water continuously when brushing your teeth, using half a sink full to shave with instead of running the water if you use a blade instead of an electric razor, and keeping your shower from running too long. Your don’t have to sacrifice all comfort to be a little more frugal.

You are absolutely correct, we consumers can get by with less. Now for the other side of the equation, less revenue generated should mean lower gov salaries not rate increases. We all can get by just fine with less income as it would be equally wasteful to spend more money, time and energy, for a lower level of service.

What a surprise! You could see this train wreck coming for ten years. Keep building, keep expanding tourism, expand the ag industry and do absolutely nothing to plan for future water resources. Mr. Gruber, you are a complete and utter waste of money! Well at least, Cambria didn’t buy in to the Nacimiento Pipeline to no-where – a $180 million dollar pipeline to a mud hole.

I think you are confused about the role of the GM in a CSD.

It is the board of directors which has the power and responsibility to make and define policies for a CSD. The GM is then instructed by the board to implement the policy. Depending on the nature of the board, they will exert a level of instruction and control over how the policy is implemented. Some BODs are more controlling in the implementation of the policy than other BODS.

The GM serves, on a contractual basis, at the pleasure of the board. The GM’ s contract can be terminated for any reason…or for no reason.

Board members serve at the pleasure of the voters. Individual board members can be voted out of office during an election.

The CCSD is not unique in its board of directors, over many years and by different board members, having ignored the obvious unsustainability of their district’s water consumption. These BODs horribly failed in their negligence in building diversified water portfolios (different sources of water supplies) to serve their constituents by planning ahead for dry years and multiple-year droughts.

In addition, BODs vary when it comes to the amount of development it allows in their district’s. Clearly, a responsible BOD keeps the level of its customers’ water use within sustainable limits.

Unfortunately, the water use allowed by many BODs is not within sustainable limits.

The “best”example of a BOD failing to responsibly balance existing customers’ needs in the long term with the amount of new development it courts is the Nipomo CSD.

Based on the NCSD’s BOD’ s unrealistic belief that the water line to Nipomo from Santa Maria would be approved and completed at their timetable’ s needs, they allowed development to continue even as the Nipomo Mesa’s aquifer groundwater levels continued to drop.

Because of the unsustainability of the water-use and new-development policies on the Mesa, the Nipomo Mesa’ s aquifer groundwater level has precipitously dropped to 25 feet below normal (per the most recent GW level studies). This is greatly increasing the risk of saltwater intrusion, which would make the aquifer unsuitable for future potable groundwater storage.

In our county, by far, the best example of wise water stewardship is SLO City. Decades ago, they recognized the need to develop a diverse water portfolios, and the city’s forward-thinking approach by the city’s previous city council’s has left an enviable legacy of dependable water resources sufficient to serve SLO City now and into the future.

Ms. Malone,

Don’t take this wrong, but I doubt that you have ever served on a Board, much less served at the leisure of a BOD. The GM has a fiduciary responsibility to present the best options to the BOD, present those options without bias and without being censored at all times. He is a public servant and has an obligation ultimately to the community, not just the BOD. You apparently feel that his failure to not exhaust every avenue as a GM in the best interest of the community is the BOD fault – not so. Maybe you slept through that class in law school, but I didn’t. I also serve on 6 BOD – three publicly traded companies and three privately owned companies. The saving grace is that every day you put money in my pocket, so thank you for that.

Your assumptions about my work history are wrong.

Regardless of what a GM IS supposed to do and responsibilities to the community, in practice the GM knows–by past experience working with the BOD–what the BOD wants to have returned to them in the way of options. The GM can present whatever options it wants, but it is the BOD that decides what policy will be enacted and how it was enacted.

I’ve been at BOD meetings where the BOD specifically told the GM what options they didn’t want to see returned.

When it comes down to it , the GM serves at the pleasure of the BOD, and not too many GM s have the luxury of facing being fired because they insisted on publicly presenting an option the GM thought was the best for the community when the GM knew the BOD did not want that option to even reach the light of day.


So in your book, one has no accountability as long as they follow orders regardless of the implications to society or an individual. Sounds like the excuse the Nazis used during their trials. It also sounds like the excuse so many criminals use during prosecution – I shouldn’t be held accountable, since I was only following orders. Maybe the voices should be held accountable – those in your head.

I understand Mr. Gruber’s frustration but I don’t think the 20% is as out of line or as easy as he thinks. As I have stated before I’m a native Californian. I remember ’77 when we started all the don’t run water while brushing teeth, if its yellow, etc. Then we went through the early nineties.

I was just thinking last week am I do all I can. I still live by the original things of ’77. Even in good years I just made it habit, why waste. I water grass twice a week. Drip irrigation. Front load washer for water savings. Water saving dishwasher. Low flow heads on shower and low flow toilets.

My point is back in ’77 in was easy to get major differences in water savings. Today? Not as easy as we have already cut back from years past and while not saying there isn’t some more, I don’t think you can get it as readily.

They are asking them to cut by a factor of over 60%. If they all have the above, which I bet they do, this is not going to be an easy task to achieve.

One person showering five minutes with a typical low flow of 2.0 gpm would use 10 gallons. So for two people that is 600 a month. One flush a day per person of 1 gpm. 60 a month. Now you are getting close to the halfway point. Again not saying it can’t be done but it will be tight. The number 1500 sounds big till you start breaking it down.