Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Dec 27th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Is Desal Headed for the Back Burner?

blog desalMayor and City Manager announce recommendation to reassess plan for contested desalination plant

If two top Santa Cruz city officials have their way, the hotly debated desalination project may soon find itself shelved.

This morning, Tuesday, Aug. 20, Santa Cruz Mayor Hilary Bryant and City Manager Martin Bernal announced their formal recommendation that no vote be held on the proposed desalination project in 2014, as planned.

Plans for the joint Santa Cruz/Soquel Creek Water District plant, which would produce up to 2.5 million gallons per day of desalinated seawater, has been part of the city’s water plan since the 2005 Integrated Water Plan deemed it the most feasible water supply option.

The plant would be used by the Santa Cruz Water Department to supplement supply in dry years and by Soquel Creek Water District in an effort to reprieve their depleted groundwater basins.

Community concern has escalated over the years, culminating with the passage of Measure P, the “right to vote” on desal ballot measure, in November 2012, which amended the City Charter to guarantee voters the right to approve of or reject desalination.

The 90-day comment period on the plan’s Environmental Impact Report came to a close on Aug. 12. More than 400 comments were submitted, according to Melanie Mow Schumacher, public outreach coordinator for the joint effort, known as scwd2.

In the joint statement with Bernal, Bryant says it is evident from the comments that “the Santa Cruz community is not ready for desalination at this time and we need a reset in the ongoing conversation on water supply and desal issues.” Other themes prevalent in the community input, according to Bryant, are that water challenges in the city need to be addressed with a more regional approach, a greater focus on conservation is needed, the likelihood of drought scenarios needs a deeper look, and that the ties between our local economy and water supply are not clear enough.

Bernal outlines a four-part plan that he will present to the city council “in the very near future,” according to Assistant City Manager Scott Collins.

He requests calling off the vote on desal in 2014, completing the EIR process, developing a plan to become a “top water conservation city in California,” and creating a community-involvement plan for moving forward on water supply options and issues.

“The City’s mission-critical obligation to provide a clean and reliable water source is threatened by dry conditions, climate change and state and federal regulators who seek more of our water to support critical fish habitat,” Bernal says in closing. “We owe it to Santa Cruz to provide enough water to sustain our way of life regardless of these challenges.”

The news comes on the heels of Water Department Director Bill Kocher’s announcement that he will retire in September. Kocher, who helmed the department for nearly three decades, was a key figure in the city’s pursuit and analysis of desal. He was also a founding member, and sat on the executive board, of CalDesal, an organization of water agencies “that were looking at perhaps adding desalination to [their] water portfolio,” Kocher told GT late last year. The group describes itself on its website as “the only advocacy group in California solely dedicated to advancing the use of desalination.” Upon the announcement of his impending departure, Water Department Communications Specialist Eileen Cross told GT that the city “is currently evaluating its relationship with CalDesal.”

Should the city approve Bryant and Bernal’s recommendations, a heated and potentially expensive 2014 campaign will be avoided, and the path forward for water supply matters reevaluated.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Dancing In the Rain

District Attorney Bob Lee’s death in October stunned the Santa Cruz community, but he had battled cancer fiercely—and privately—for more than a decade. Now one of his closest friends reveals the remarkable inside story

 

Our Gifts - Fiery Sacrificial Lights to One Another

Wednesday is Christmas Eve, Hanukkah ends and the Moon is in Aquarius, calling for the new world to take shape at midnight. Thursday morning, the sun, at the Tropic of Capricorn, begins moving northward. The desire currents are stilled. A great benediction of spiritual force (Capricorn’s Rays 1, 3, 7) streams into Earth. Temple bells ring out. The heavens bend low; the Earth is lifted up to the Light. Angels and Archangels chant, “On Earth, peace, goodwill to all.” As these forces stream into the Earth they assume long swirling lines of light, in the likeness of the Madonna and Child. The holy child is born. Let our hearts be “impressed” with and hold this picture, especially because Christmas may be difficult this year. Christmas Day is void of course moon (v/c moon), which means we may feel somewhat disconnected from one another. It’s difficult to connect in a v/c moon. Try anyway. Mercury joins Pluto in Capricorn. Uh oh … we don’t bring up the past containing any dark and difficult issues. We are to attempt new ways of communicating—expressing aspirations and love for one another, replacing wounding, sadness, lostness, and hurts of the past. Play soothing music, pray together, have the intention for peace, harmony and goodwill. Don’t be surprised if things feel out of control and/or arguments arise. We remember, before a new harmony emerges, chaos and crisis come first to clear the air. We are to be the harmonizers. Christmas evening is more harmonious, less difficult, more of what Christmas should be— radiations of love, sharing, kindness, compassion and care. Sunday, Feast Day of the Holy Family, is surprising. Wednesday is New Year’s Eve, the last day of 2014. Taurus moon, a stabilizing energy, ushers in the New Year. Happy New Year, everyone! Peace to everyone. Let us realize we are gifts radiating diamond light to one another. Living sacrificial flames!

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Let My People Go

There’s a lot to like in Ridley Scott’s maligned ‘Exodus’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Best Bites of 2014

A look back at the year in good taste

 

What downtown business is good for both one-stop shopping and last-minute gifts?

The Homeless Garden Project store. Because it is a community effort and has really useful and beautiful things, and allows you to connect with a lot of folks who are doing great work in Santa Cruz. Miriam Greenberg, Santa Cruz, UCSC Professor

 

Vino Tabi Winery

One of Santa Cruz’s most happening areas to go wine tasting is in the westside’s Swift Street Courtyard complex. Ever since a group of about a dozen wineries got together and formed Surf City Vintners (SCV), the place has been a hive of activity, and a wine-tasting mecca. Adding to the mix is the lively Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing beer company—making Swift Street Courtyard a perfect spot for a glass of wine or a pitcher of ale.

 

Betty’s Eat Inn

Yes, she’s a real person; no, this isn’t her