Clearing up misinformation about Cambria’s water supply

September 16, 2014
Amanda Rice

Amanda Rice

OPINION By AMANDA RICE

I am a regular reader of Cal Coast News, a Cambrian and a current elected board member of Cambria CSD. And I respect the role of journalism as the fourth branch of government. A strong, free and curious press is critical for good government and a well-informed citizenry.

I say all of that as a preface to the corrections and my own understanding of the project that is the subject Mr Blanck’s opinion piece.

Blanck said, “Did you ever wonder why your due process rights were usurped by the Cambria CSD (CCSD) when you were not asked whether you preferred “toilet-to-tap” water for $15 million or 300 acre-feet of fresh well water from an existing well for the cost of a postage stamp and a water rights application the CCSD has known about since 2010 — and not acted on?”

The community did have an opportunity to have a say on the project. The Board proposed a rate increase (under prop 218) that will be used only to pay for this emergency project. There were 800 Cambrians who protested the rate increase, but not the 50 percent plus one (1,971 protests in 45 day window) required to prohibit the Board from enacting the rate increase.

The dollars brought in by the increase are restricted to paying off the indebtedness incurred for this project.

And the financial instrument for the “emergency” project takes the CCSD assets as collateral, including the bank’s ability to repossess the Fiscilini East-West ranch and develop it.

The financial instrument (installment sale agreement) does have a term that encumbers the District’s ad valorum property tax revenues as collateral the event that the additional rates and charges recently approved by the Board do not cover the payment amount. This was described as a “standard” term on all District loans over at least the past decade. The Fiscalini Ranch is not in danger of being re-possessed.
The principal amount borrowed was $8,939,000 dollars. The lender offered the District a fixed 4.11 percent over 20 years. The estimated total debt service when amortized over the full term of the agreement is $13,170,000.

Blanck said, “This is just more of the “pave paradise and put up a parking lot” mentality exemplified by the massacre of healthy trees, except the CCSD wants you to pay for developer’s profits with the fake ‘emergency’ project. And even the county is in on it, improperly issuing an “emergency” permit for a project in a coastal tidal wetland without authority.”

This is not a false emergency. It is being designed to meet the needs of the current residents, not for developers or any possible profits. The county had limited options under its own policies and ordinances when the district applied for an emergency permit. Understanding the limitation of their authority under an emergency permit, the county placed important conditions on that permit. Most importantly, the district must apply for a regular coastal development permit within 30 days of the emergency permit approval, which we did. All the usual requirements that a project like this must meet (like environmental review, county planning process, etc) apply. No new development can be served by this project.

Blanck said, “Those Aug. 15, San Simeon Creek well levels are above the average for all years measured which proves there is currently no water emergency in Cambria, especially if the CCSD stops wasting water.”

The Aug 15 well levels likely reflect the fact that water that would have been sent through our pipes and into homes is instead being re-injected into the basin in a manner similar to how the project is eventually expected to operate.

Blanck said, “Then there is the actual health and safety risk to you from a “Toilet-to-Tap” project, not permitted like any other similar project in California, but rushed through the permitting process under the scam of being an “emergency.”

Mr Blanck is entitled to his opinion, of course. But this project is not being rushed through the department of drinking water’s (née public health department) process. Our contractor (CDM Smith) is currently conducting a 67 day tracer test that is meant to confirm the hydrological model developed earlier in the process.

The department of drinking water policies currently require a minimum of 60 days “travel time” between when water that has been filtered and purified is injected into the basin and when it is pumped back out for use. This travel time requirement was chosen out of an abundance of caution to ensure high quality water and the public health and safety of the users of that water.

Many in the water industry seem to be of the opinion that this is a far too strict regulatory policy. The department is currently in the process of drafting revisions to that policy and is expected to be available for public comment within the next 12-18 months.

Blanck said, “When was the change of the project from “brackish seawater” to a “Toilet-to-Tap” project ever discussed at a public meeting? So without any permits except the “emergency” permit, the CCSD is spending your money and risking your future.”

“Future Cambria tourists will quip, is that something swimming in your ice tea? Or, tourists will ask, do you think it is safe to breathe the water in the shower with worries about inhaling brain-eating amoebas? Local residents will wake up to the real danger and decide to move out, in mass to protect both their health and wallets,” Blanck added.

These paragraphs are simply intended to be inflammatory and raises fears that Blanck should know, as a professional hydrologist, have no basis in reality. We do not live in a third world country and we should be above this kind of fear-mongering.


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47 Comments

  1. Waterloo says:

    So when are the 3 CCSD board members in this conversation going to answer the questions?

    When did the project change from “brackish seawater” to a “Toilet-to-Tap” project?

    Why was the change from “brackish seawater” that is part of the water master plan to a “Toilet-to-Tap” project (NOT in the water master plan) never on the CCSD Board agenda (It appears to be a back room deal, a Brown Act violation)?

    Why did the CCSD Board agree to a $13 million indebtedness for Cambria for a project that has no State agency approvals?

    You never answer questions from public comment, if you don’t answer here, the world will know your hidden agenda!

    (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  2. oceanone says:

    Can someone tell us about Rice’s past in New Orleans?

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  3. DennySLO says:

    So let me get this straight……”toilet to tap” introduces “black” water into the ground water in the hopes that by sucking it out of the ground some miles away that it will have been magically cleaned and treated by the ground water fairies? Even if you treated the waste water prior to introducing it to the basin, I’m sure that is the plan……what a risk placed on all who would drink it!
    The potential to contaminate ALL of the ground water is a reality if this, in fact is the planned way ahead.

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
    • adustum says:

      Fecal and urine laced water directly to each Cambrian’s home and to the lips of the tourist. It is so obvious that the Cambria CSD does not care whether they harm people provided they can allow a few to profit.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  4. Waterloo says:

    So when are the 3 CCSD board members in this conversation going to answer the questions?
    When did the project change from “brackish seawater” to a “Toilet-to-Tap” project?
    Why was the change from “brackish seawater” that is part of the water master plan to a “Toilet-to-Tap” project (NOT in the water master plan) never on the CCSD Board agenda (It appears to be a back room deal, a Brown Act violation)?
    Why did the CCSD Board agree to a $13 million indebtedness for Cambria for a project that has no State agency approvals?
    You never answer questions from public comment, if you don’t answer here, the world will know your hidden agenda!

    (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
  5. derylrobinson says:

    “You are never dedicated to something that you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it’s going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kind of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.” – Robert M. Pirsig

    Or more simply put, the water/growth opposition movement has jumped the shark.

    (-3) 3 Total Votes - 0 up - 3 down
    • Waterloo says:

      Directly from Orange County, right Deryl?

      (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
    • adustum says:

      derylrobinson, You are from Orange County. And you are trying to get the Cambria CSD to serve the local residents with fecal matter and urine?????? The Cambria CSD has approved a water system that will expose us to toilet water so a few people can profit.

      (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
      • derylrobinson says:

        You and yours have been feeding rhetorical fecal matter to Cambrians for years. Piping it back to you is exactly what you deserve.
        If you push this position that the treated water means Cambrians are drinking fecal matter and urine, and this project goes on line, then you will either need to accept fecal matter and urine into your home, or leave. Are you really ready for that?

        (-2) 2 Total Votes - 0 up - 2 down
        • adustum says:

          Thank you for admitting you care little about the health of Cambrians and that indeed you want Cambrians to drink fecal matter and urine. Your motives are loud and clear. You are only in it to make money. I have no intension of leaving but you can most certainly stay in Orange County and continue to drink your own urine and fecal matter.

          (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
          • derylrobinson says:

            Nobody is going to be drinking anybody’s urine or feces. That is nonsense and just another irrational fear. It’s the latest fear tactic intended to scare people out of a water project and into staying away from Cambria so you can keep it all to yourselves.
            Talking about Orange County is another scare tactic that is totally removed from reality. There’s no economy or jobs in Cambria that could support such growth.

            (-4) 4 Total Votes - 0 up - 4 down
          • derylrobinson says:

            If the project comes on line and you don’t want the water in your home, I will volunteer to work with you to help you get the right to install your own tank and truck your own water in.

            (-4) 4 Total Votes - 0 up - 4 down
            • adustum says:

              derylrobinson, I don’t want you anywhere near my home, my family or me.

              First, Orange County has some of the worst traffic in the nation. Eastbound 91 is among the nation’s worst. Northbound 55 freeway is on the nation’s top 40 most congested corridors. (Orange County Register)

              Second, the crime in Orange County is bad, including the gang problems. MS 13, one the most deadly gangs, and many other gangs are prevalent in Orange County.

              You want to bring Orange County to central coast.

              You can brand and hard sell toilet to tap anyway you like derylrobinson. People are still drinking reprocessed fecal matter and urine. Infectious disease experts have warned of catastrophic public health implication if the treatment process fails.

              Science is for sale (as are government officials), as we witnessed with the tobacco industry’s assurance that smoking was good for your health; certain medications branded safe; and Veterans told exposure to Agent Orange was not harmful.

              I’m sure you know Orange County attorneys. Ask them about hiring scientist to justify any position and influencing government officials.

              (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  6. oceanone says:

    New logo as tourist enter Cambria: “Home of fecal matter and urine drinks, courtesy of the Cambria CSD.”

    Or maybe t-shirts that state, “My grandmother visited Cambria and all she got was e-coli.”

    The CCSD’s PR people can actually make getting e-coli and drinking human waste a positive thing. “Yum, drinking fecal matter and urine is a Cambrian thing.”

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  7. Waterloo says:

    So when are the 3 CCSD board members in this conversation going to answer the questions?

    When did the project change from “brackish seawater” to a “Toilet-to-Tap” project?

    Why was the change from “brackish seawater” that is part of the water master plan to a “Toilet-to-Tap” project (NOT in the water master plan) never on the CCSD Board agenda (It appears to be a back room deal, a Brown Act violation)?

    Why did the CCSD Board agree to a $13 million indebtedness for Cambria for a project that has no State agency approvals?

    You never answer questions from public comment, if you don’t answer here, the world will know your hidden agenda!

    (5) 9 Total Votes - 7 up - 2 down
    • adustum says:

      The Cambria CSD consider themselves Kings (and Queens?), like ‘CambriaKing”. They will impose their will and make tourist and locals drink fecal matter and urine if they want to.

      The Chamber of Commerces from other beach communities must be threated about the CCSD’s new water system. It is a great way to keep tourist out of Cambria. Just provide the truth and tell them that when in Cambria, they will be served fecal and urine laced water with their meal. Yummy!

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down

Comments are closed.