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Dec 19th
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From the Editor

Greg 12Well, that was interesting—2012 that is. So ... how did the year unravel for you? Looking back, I would have to say that, personally, it was one of the most interesting years I have ever had. Maybe “interesting” isn’t the right word. “Curious?” That’s closer. “Challenging?” Even warmer. “Full of growth.” (God, I hope so.) Not often comfortable—perhaps that is the best way to sum up 2012. Perhaps you feel the same. With that in mind, we put our best steps forward and look toward the future with one of our more adventurous issues to date.

Dubbed the If We Had Our Way ... issue, it is filled with 25 suggestions that could make Santa Cruz County a better place. I use the word “could,” because, well, Santa Cruzans, although über creative, can be oh-so “sensitive.” These are simply “bright ideas”—from local leaders and visionaries, and some of our editorial staff. We’ll continue this tradition weekly beginning in mid-January, so be sure to keep reading for other suggestions. And feel free to send us some of your own thoughts, too, to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The intent is to offer up ideas and generate a discussion within the community.

Elsewhere, be sure to turn to our Music and Events page this week for a rundown of some of the activities unfolding on New Year’s Eve. (What kind of year do you want to create for yourself?)

And don’t miss out on the new exhibit from artist/cartoonist Futzie Nutzle. Over in Film, film critic Lisa Jensen reports on some of the best films of the year. (What was your favorite?)

In the meantime, if you’re a soul-searcher and thinking about the transformations that could lie ahead, I am often reminded that some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten in life can often be found in three-word sentences: “Don’t freak out,””Let it go” and, my favorite, “Get over it!”

Onward we go ...

Thank you for reading. Here’s to a fun, graceful and stellar 2013.
    
Greg Archer | Editor-in-Chief


Letters t the Editor
Debating Desal

After reading your cover article on the "Desal Dialogue" (GT 12/13), and having watched billions of gallons of fresh water rushing to the sea during past storms straining the levies as they passed, I couldn't help wonder why the city doesn't want to look at other options to  desalination. All this excess wasted water could be diverted into the underground aquifer and solve the problem of seawater intrusion and balance the water use/storage equation. We could also replace those flush urinals in the county which use 40,000 gallons of water (each) per year with waterless ones.

These two actions would make better use of our natural resource and provide much-needed jobs. Of course it would not  put cash in the pockets of corporations that build desalination plants  and their supporters, which may be the real source of the "controversy," after all.
Drew Lewis
Santa Cruz

Nice ‘Ebb & Flow’
Regarding “Ebb & Flow: The Desal Debate Evolves” (GT 12/13), it was an outstanding example of journalism. Although CalDesal membership was briefly mentioned, voters and water ratepayers deserve to know more about this less-than-transparent relationship.

CalDesal is a registered lobbyist firm that advocates for desal development and environmental deregulation. CalDesal’s activities and membership are kept secret, however, cash-strapped Santa Cruz pays a $5,000 annual membership fee. Furthermore, Water Department Director Bill Kocher serves on the executive committee.

CalDesal’s website states, “There has never been a more important time to commit to locally produced desalinated water. Opponents of desalination are better funded and better organized than the water industry. But not for long! Help us engage, level the playing field and make desalination a reality.”

At the behest of the CalDesal president, Kocher wrote John Laird, Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, discouraging specific environmental protection measures to limit hazardous seawater desal practices. See opc.ca.gov/webmaster/ftp/pdf/public_comment/20110907_City_of_Santa_Cruz_Water_Dept.pdf)

Interestingly, Kocher presented at both CalDesal Conference sessions in Sacramento (Oct. 25-26) and Irvine (Oct. 29-30) costing the city $1,100 in travel expenses. Closed to the public and news media, the conference came only a week before Measure P passed and at a time when many communities are reassessing, shelving, or cancelling their desal plans due to escalating costs, environmental risks, and public opposition. (http://news.yahoo.com/desalination-no-panacea-calif-water-woes-174531736.html)

This political relationship is of particular concern in environmentally vigilant Santa Cruz, where citizens are increasingly skeptical about the efficacy of building a publically funded desal plant.
Paul Gratz
Co-author of Measure P

Online Comments

On ‘Ebb & FLow’ ...
The “low hanging fruit” as Don Lane calls it is still mostly out of reach, greywater to toilet, laundry and topical landscape watering. These alone can provide a near 60 percent reduction in household use from the meter and is about all that be done to achieve next spring's mandatory reduction by Soquel Creek Water District
—Arlos Anderson

When traveling throughout the world I often see rain catchment barrels on the roofs of homes to catch their washing and gardening water. Why don't we do that here?
—Traveler

Holiday Deadlines
GT offices will be closed Monday, Dec. 24 through Tuesday, Jan. 1 in observance of Christmas and New Year’s. The office will reopen Wednesday, Jan. 2.

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