Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Oct 22nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

For a Sustainable Water Future

waterfallsPfeiffer-Big-SurExperience from other places should give us pause as we consider building a desalination plant. On Jan. 23, 2010, The Australian reported, “Rusting in sea water, the $1.2 billion Gold Coast desalination plant required repairs soon after it opened. The showpiece of a Queensland government strategy to drought-proof the state’s booming southeast, the project has been plagued by so many construction flaws and unscheduled shut-downs that the government is still refusing to take possession from the contractors who built it.”

The St. Petersburg Times reports on the only large-scale desalination plant operating in the United States, “Tampa Bay Water’s long-troubled desalination plant is having more problems. The $158 million plant, which opened five years late and cost $40 million more than expected, remains unable to supply the full 25 million gallons a day that was originally promised.” Closer to home, a Santa Barbara desalination plant sits idle, never used since its completion in 1992. Meanwhile Santa Barbara residents are still paying off the bonds for the plant.

Santa Cruz doesn’t have to repeat Santa Barbara’s mistake. Conservation has greatly alleviated our drought risk by reducing our water demand. According to the City’s 2003 Integrated Water Plan (IWP), desalination was intended to alleviate a portion of our water supply shortfall during a worst-case drought. The shortfall is the difference between water demand, which the IWP projected to be 4.8 billion gallons in 2010, and the amount of water available during a drought, 3.3 billion gallons. That shortfall has nearly disappeared, as actual demand in 2008 was 3.6 billion gallons, dropping to 3.1 billion in 2010. Thus, recent Water Department statements that a worst-case drought would require “45% peak-season curtailment” are inaccurate. When we challenged the inaccuracy, City of Santa Cruz Water Department official, Toby Goddard, acknowledged, “We are both in agreement that water demand presently is a good bit lower today than what was assumed to be the case in developing the City’s IWP … Furthermore, we agree that there is a need periodically to update how all these changes affect the City’s drought risk.”

The disappearance of the shortfall has achieved the original goal of the desal plant.  Yet the City Council continues to approve funds for desal studies and design, currently running $17.5 million through 2012.

A new rationale for desalination has emerged. The City’s water supply will diminish once the National Marine Fisheries Service requires the City to reduce its diversion of water from the San Lorenzo River and North Coast streams in order to restore populations of native fish. But turning to the energy-intensive solution of desalination will only worsen CO2 emissions that are making ocean waters more acidic, affecting all marine life. A better solution is improved conservation. What if the City instituted a free toilet installation program such as exists in Soquel Creek Water District, with the goal that 90 percent of buildings get the latest .8 gallons/flush toilets? What if we launched a campaign to replace water-hungry lawns with drought-tolerant plants, supported by rebates such as Long Beach’s $2.50/sq ft? What if the City invested in rainwater catchment for landscape

and toilet use? These measures would not only cost less than desalination, they would provide local jobs. Moreover, they would reduce our carbon footprint rather than increase it. Desalination requires seven to 10 times the energy of pumping water out of the ground.

Secondly, we should enact  a water-neutral development policy, similar to Soquel Creek Water District’s policy of offsetting new demand with retrofits in existing buildings.

Another solution is collaboration between water districts. The County is conducting a study of regional water exchanges that could provide rainy season aquifer relief for Soquel Creek Water District in amounts comparable to a desalination plant. Soquel Creek Water District could supply well water to Santa Cruz in drought years. Our water agencies would have the funds to implement this alternative if they weren’t shelling out for desal pre-construction costs.

We can choose between increasing our fossil- fuel dependency or creating a sustainable water future. Santa Cruz Desal Alternatives is considering a ballot measure that would require voter approval before a plant could be built. You can learn more by visiting the  website, desalalternatives.org.


Comment on this article below or send to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Field Work

Santa Cruz Mountain winemakers explain how the harvest works, and what kind of wine to expect from this year's crop

 

Libra's Two Choices

Libra (our last week) is the sign of creating right relations and values. In Libra we are asked to choose how to be, our identity in the world. We can maintain a hermetic sealed-off attitude (my life, my work, my money, etc.) or we can gain knowledge of world events and learn more about those in need. Libra is a group sign—self with others. Here are some events occurring in our world this week concerning food, poverty, spirituality, values and global realities. The UN (a spiritual experiment) each month places a “light” upon world problems. This week a light shines on Rural Women, Farms, Food & Poverty. Before we choose to respond we must have knowledge. “So we can each do our part.” Oct. 15 - International Day of Rural Women (unrecognized with few resources); Oct. 16 - World Food Day & Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth; Oct. 17 - Eradication of Poverty Day (international). During the month of Libra (with Saturn exalted), we pause, contemplate and assess what it is we know, don’t know, and need to know. Libra receives and distributes Ray 3 of divine intelligence, right relations, right choice and right economy (Venus). Use your intelligence “tips the Libran scales” in terms of being able to see and then choose between the two paths Libra offers (return to the past or step forward into Scorpio’s Discipleship). Libra (the oscillating light) prepares us for the great tests and conflicts in Scorpio. In Libra we are subtly tested as we learn the nature of polarized energies (s/he loves me, s/he loves me not). In Libra we learn more about ourselves through others. Libra’s Ray 3 asks us to become more adaptable and skillful. And then we are to teach each other what we know. In Libra, we all become teachers. In all these ways love is cultivated.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Nut Kreations

Co-owner Craig Olsen goes nuts over nuts

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Friends who are wine club members of Martin Ranch invited us to the winery’s fun and festive annual barbecue, where the wine is flowing and the food just keeps on coming. Music and dancing are part and parcel of the action, and a good time is guaranteed.

 

Beer Bus

Santa Cruz’s new Brew Cruz, award winning ales, mole by el Jardín, and Wildcat Ridge Chardonnay