Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Mar 27th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Water Issues Loom Over City Council Meeting

riverFRESH DIRT > Desal plant and water swaps discussed at Tuesday’s meeting

Proponents and opponents of the proposed desalination plant dominated the discussion at the Tuesday, July 26, city council meeting.

Council chambers were crowded as council members heard Santa Cruz Water Department Director Bill Kocher request another $291,000 for the proposed desalination plant to finance an environmental impact report (EIR) that was originally slated to be completed later this year. The report has been post-poned until late winter of next year, when additional research will be completed.

The city council unanimously approved the $291,000 extension of the EIR contract. The council was not without inquiries, however, as Kocher was asked about future construction issues regarding the plant. Vice Mayor Don Lane in-quired about a proposed change in size of the desalination plant from 2.5 million gallons per day (mdg) to 4.5 mgd, to which Kocher replied, “It might need to be expanded.” If it were to be expanded, Kocher explained it would be in one million gallon increments. The idea of expanding the plant is being included in the EIR in consideration of future draught protection and population growth. From 2000 to 2010, Santa Cruz County’s population has increased by 2.7 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Community members had their concerns, too, as the council heard public comments on the issue. “The money is capital... wherever it comes from, that’s capital our infrastructure badly needs,” said Jack Schultz, a community member.

The EIR is being conducted by San Francisco-based URS Corp., a company that provides infrastructure and technical services to both the public and private sectors worldwide. In 2010, URS Corp. was ranked No. 27 in washington-technology.com’s list of the Top 100 Government Contractors. In May, the com-pany reported $62.1 million in profits. More than compile data for research, URS Corp. provides support and development of nuclear and fossil fuel facilities throughout the globe, including the Middle East. The firm has also secured con-tracts for services in Iraq.

The proposed desal plant is not the only water related issue that was voted on by the council. The council voted unanimously to join a study that would re-search the potential of transferring excess winter water from the San Lorenzo River to neighboring districts. The concept, which is a revival of an alternative drought-fighting measure to swap water between the Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley and Soquel Creek water districts, was first introduced more than two decades ago.

The idea is that if Santa Cruz shares its water with the other districts during the winter, it would allow their severely depleted groundwater basins to replenish, explained Water Resource Director of Santa Cruz County John Ricker. Santa Cruz relies on surface water for 96 percent of its water, the majority coming from the San Lorenzo River. Soquel Creek and Scotts Valley water districts are 100 percent reliant on ground water. If such a water-transfer measure were to be implemented, compensation for the City of Santa Cruz would be included in the deal.

Community member Ron Pomerantz commented that “no stone should be left unturned” when looking for alternatives to desal. Kocher, however, noted that even if a water transfer were implemented, it would not serve as a substitute for desalination, but rather as a means of providing supplemental benefits down the road.

In an email to council members and local media on Wednesday, July 27, Santa Cruz Desal Alternatives organizer Rick Longinotti thanked the council for agreeing to study the potential for water transfers, and requested that they allow his group to partake in a Joint Fact Finding process.

“I am discouraged at the prospect of a council study session on the five-year plan if it is simply going to be a rehash of past claims such as ‘We already have a water-neutral policy,’” he wrote. “That is why I like the idea of a professionally mediated ‘Joint Fact Finding’ process. Santa Cruz Desal Alternatives is willing to fund a portion of the costs for a professional mediator. The desired outcome would be an agreement on matters of fact. The parties still might disagree on choice of solutions. But there would be a great benefit, for example, in a joint statement of facts about the pros and cons of desalination along with pros and cons of other strategies. This could inform a ballot measure that allows voters to choose their future. A ballot proposition without joint fact finding will be adversarial and it will be hard for voters to evaluate conflicting information.”

 


Read a Good Times article from February of this year that explores the idea of a water transfer here: goodtimessantacruz.com/santa-cruz-news/santa-cruz-environmental-news/2206-water-to-share.html. Learn more about the proposed desalination project at scwd2desal.org, and about the opposition to it at desalalternatives.org.

 

 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

The Magic Touch

Stage magician vs. charlatans in engaging ‘An Honest Liar’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals