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Officials in Cambria may consider easing drought restrictions - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Officials in Cambria may consider easing drought restrictions

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Cambria has been under Stage 3 drought restrictions for almost two years and people there have cut their water use by 45 percent. However, recent rains could bring some changes.

The community has received eight inches of rain so far this season, which is more than Cambria has seen in the previous two seasons combined. With that, aquifers are filling up, allowing the Cambria Community Services District Board to consider loosening drought restrictions placed on businesses and residents.

“We had multiple years where we really didn't get rain, so the aquifers didn't fill during those years,” explained John MacKinnon, a managing partner at Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill in Cambria. “So it gets a little scary for us.”

Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill is just one of many businesses affected by the drought.

“Yeah, we have done what we could,” said MacKinnon after a year of severe water usage cutbacks.   

Visible changes at MacKinnon’s restaurant include bottled water for customers, plastic cups for soft drinks, and switching from plates to baskets. In the kitchen is a new dishwasher and cleaning techniques to get the job done efficiently.

“Knock on wood that we have pulled through and we do have a plant as an emergency situation,” said MacKinnon.

A new sustainable water facility helped, which has been used for two seasons.

“We turned it off in December and we are running off of our aquifers now. They are starting to recharge because of the rain,” said Cambria Community Services District General Manager Jerry Gerber. “What our residents and businesses can look at now is using a little bit more water than they have in the past.”

That could mean the end of the 50-gallon per-person per-day limit, steep surcharges on excessive water use, and bans on car washing.

While slowly on the way back to normalcy, some locals say cutting back might just be the new normal.

“We have to wait until the aquifers are full and we are really into the rainy season to know this is the real deal. But you know, we could be right back in [a drought] next summer,” said MacKinnon. “It will be what happens next winter, so yeah, I guess we get to breathe easy for another eight months or something.”

Gerber says the restrictions will be discussed at next Thursday’s board meeting. In the meantime, residents should continue to follow the restrictions in place. 

What will remain in place are the outdoor watering restrictions, which are consistent with the governor's drought declaration. 

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