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California Coastal Commission Notice of Violation Reaches CCSD

On April 19, the California Coastal Commission issued a formal Notice of Violation to the Cambria Community Services District (CCSD).  The Notice relates to CCSD’s failure to comply with its Commission – issued Coastal Development Permit No. 132-18 and identifies three specific violations.

     First, according to the Commission, CCSD has failed to protect in-stream flows required to support the fisheries and other creek habitat resources on both Santa Rosa Creek and San Simeon Creek.  Second, the Notice states that CCSD continues to issue “will-serve” letters agreeing to provide new water service to property owners in spite of impacts on the creeks that are inconsistent with its Coastal Development Permit (CDP).  Third, CCSD has offered to provide water to properties in Tract 1804, which are specifically prohibited from receiving water from CCSD.  The Commission notes that CCSD’s water operations regularly extract more water than is required for maintaining a minimum stream flow and habitat; and that CCSD has failed to install the irrigation facilities required to maintain riparian vegetation within its San Simeon Creek property, as required under the CDP.

     The full text of the Notice of Violation is posted on the PROTECTCambria website (protectcambria.com).      The Notice of Violation requires that CCSD take several actions.  The CCSD should immediately cease issuing any will-serve letters for any new water-using development, as well as retract any existing letters for projects without a CDP.  The Commission also expects the CCSD to develop and submit a water extraction and resource protection plan explaining how it plans to comply with its CDP with regard to the protection of fisheries, riparian resources, and habitat associated with both San Simeon Creek and Santa Rosa Creek.

     The Notice of Violation requests a response from CCSD by Friday, May 20, and states that the Coastal Act provides several remedies to address violations, including the issuance of cease-and-desist orders and civil fines of up to $6,000 per day for each violation.  The Commission is also authorized to seek injunctive relief through the courts which could result in additional fines.

     In 2014 CCSD constructed a water treatment facility within the endangered species habitat area adjacent to San Simeon Creek. The purpose of the facility, currently known as the Water Reclamation Facility (WRF), was to combine treated wastewater and brackish saltwater from the San Simeon Lagoon to augment Cambria’s water supply and facilitate buildout, that is, the addition of approximately 650 new residences in Cambria.  The facility was constructed under an “emergency” CDP issued during the 2014 drought with the understanding that the CCSD would apply for a “regular” CDP to operate the facility.

     PROTECTCambria is a group of residents and neighbors concerned about the future of Cambria.  We seek to protect Cambria’s existing water supply, protect our natural environment and ensure sufficient water reserves for firefighting.  Additional information regarding Cambria’s water situation can be found at the PROTECTCambria website (protectcambria.com).