Cambria settles lawsuit against engineer for $1.75 million


After years of issues with their water treatment plant, the Cambria Community Services District settled for $1.75 million with the engineering firm CDM Smith which designed and build the facility and the evaporation pond that was later decommissioned by state regulators.

Since the $13 million emergency water desalination plant became operational in 2014, it has developed problems associated with its water basin and blowers designed to handle plant discharge. In 2015, the district operated the water system for about two and a half months before it needed to be shut down for repairs.

Because of failures with the discharge system, in 2016 the Regional Water Quality Control Board ordered the district to find an alternate method to handle brine discharge from the plant. Then in 2017, because of flooding, the pond was decommissioned.

In particular, the pond was too small to effectively treat the brine-laden water. The district had paid engineering firm CDM Smith $500,000 to design and construct the pond, and then agreed to pay another $500,000 to have the pond fixed.

In Oct. 2018, the district sued CDM Smith over alleged design flaws, seeking $3.5 million. On Jan. 27, the parties agreed to a $1.75 million settlement.