How did San Simeon run out of water during a rain storm?

March 24, 2023


Amid pounding rains, San Simeon Community Services District staff asked residents to curtail their water usage because of a water “quantity” issue. By quantity, district officials were referring to a lack of clean water.

Working to have drinkable water 12 months a year, in 2016 the district constructed a water purification facility. At that time, the district planned to primarily run the unit during the winter because of high chloride levels and turbidity.

After weeks of rain caused dirt and debris to flow down Pico Creek from Rocky Butte, the rainiest spot in San Luis Obispo County, the cloudy water needed to be run through the district’s water purification facility.

However, the facility’s three filters needed to be changed to handle the higher level of turbidity, filters the district did not have in stock.

District staff then placed an order for three new filters while sending the following warning to residents:

“”Due to the ongoing storm activity in the area, we are requesting that you voluntarily refrain from doing laundry and nonessential water use. With this storm activity we are experiencing a water quantity issue and are requesting that you conserve water until Friday 3/24/2023.”

However, the filters are not expected to arrive until Monday.

In the meantime, Cambria Community Services District began supplying the small community of approximately 450 people with drinking water on Thursday. The water is trucked in 4,000 gallon tankers.

“Today, we brought in 14 trucks loads of potable water, approximately 55,000 gallons, which was added to the reservoir. Unfortunately, turbidity in the wells remains high, as we are averaging 7.5 before treatment and 3.3 after treatment. 3.3 is too high to meet state standards,” said Charles Grace, San Simeon’s general manager. “We will be monitoring the levels in the wells through the night and into the morning, however since these levels are too high, we will have to haul at least 25,000 gallons tomorrow.”

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Perhaps the “qualified” engineer Grace could explain WHY, knowing the forecast, knowing the propensity for high quantities of rain and turbidity, DID NOT ORDER FILTERS IN ADVANCE????? Overpaid, underperforming – if at all.