Environmental group sues Cambria CSD over water project
October 21, 2014
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
A San Luis Obispo County environmental group has filed a lawsuit against the Cambria Community Services District, alleging that the district has breached state law in rushing through its approximately $9 million emergency water supply project.
The district is currently building a water treatment plant and supply system that will transform a mix of fresh water, seawater, creek underflow and wastewater into potable water for residents. CSD officials have not yet obtained all the necessary permission for the project, but they are currently operating under an emergency coastal development permit from the county.
LandWatch San Luis Obispo, the organization suing the CSD, is contesting whether a water emergency actually exists in Cambria. LandWatch alleges that the district violated the California Environmental Quality Act by skipping necessary steps of approval for the project.
“The district has improperly attempted to construct a permanent desalination plant intended for long-term operation under the guise of a temporary emergency facility in order to avoid having to analyze the effects of the project on the environment as required by CEQA,” the lawsuit states.
LandWatch claims district numbers indicate that groundwater levels are currently about average for the time of year, and that the CSD is playing on residents’ concerns about the state drought and water shortages.
Following the filing of the lawsuit, the district fired back with a news release saying that LandWatch has a history of bringing frivolous litigation against the CSD.
“The lawsuit has the temerity to question whether there is in fact an emergency,” the CSD release says. “This is a preposterous position given the undeniable reality of the water crisis Cambria is facing.”
The district’s release went on to say that the water emergency in Cambria has been recognized by every level of government in the permitting process ranging from the county to the governor’s office.
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