Tuesday, July 21, 2009

San Diego Council Steps In on Water After Mayor's Plan Falls Flat

Interesting article from the Voice of San Diego...

Sunday, July 19, 2009 | When the first reduction in San Diego's water supplies in two decades loomed earlier this year, a long list of people weighed in on Mayor Jerry Sanders' proposal to reduce citywide use.

Lobbyists lobbied. Economists critiqued. Concerned residents questioned.

One group was notably silent: The City Council.

That changed in early April after voiceofsandiego.org revealed misrepresentations that Water Department staff had made about the benefits of Sanders' proposal, which had based proposed cuts on residents' historic use. Very quickly, the council got a lot more interested in shaping a policy that had previously been entrusted to the Mayor's Office and Water Department staff to develop and market.

Then San Diego got a reprieve. The 20 percent supply cut the city had prepared for didn't manifest. Instead, the region is coping with an 8 percent reduction. But as the potential for cuts looms again next year, City Council President Ben Hueso is now prodding his colleagues to develop their own water-reduction strategy -- not rely on the mayor.

In a recent memo, he asked them to submit ideas for promoting water conservation and new supplies and has proposed a series of public meetings about water.

Click Here for the full VoiceofSanDiego.org article.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Microbiologist's view on water reclamation in SD

Tuesday, July 7, 2009 | As a professor of Microbiology and a concerned citizen of San Diego, I am extremely concerned about the reports Councilor Lightner has had a change of mind concerning the City's water reclamation plan. We have a serious and growing water crisis in the San Diego region and this plan is incredibly important to our region's water security. I have looked at the plans in detail and I know that the water we will be getting from this proposal will be significantly cleaner than our current water sources.

Remember, our current water source is already sewage contaminated from the run-off of upstream cities and is not nearly as heavily treated and filtered as the reclaimed water will be. People may think that desalination is safer option, but the ocean is loaded with bacteria that needs to be removed. With desalination, you not only have to get rid of the bacteria and virus, as with reclamation, but you also have to deal with all the salt making the process much more expensive and energy intensive. And if energy prices take off again, desalination becomes even more expensive.

I am not arguing against desalination; we will probably need that too along with much tighter water restrictions and loads of xeriscaping. However, we cannot afford to miss out on any source of water, especially from the relatively cheap and clean source provided by reclamation. San Diego will need every possible source of water in the future given our continuing drought, population growth and climate change.

People are afraid of this plan because of the psychological "yuck" factor: there is no scientific reasoning behind this fear. I hope the City Council members and the mayor are able to see past the temporary political ramifications and see the larger picture for the citizens of San Diego. We have a crisis here and we need intelligent and brave leadership to secure this most precious resource for future San Diegans.

Dr. Scott T. Kelley is the Associate Professor of Microbiology at San Diego State University


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Re-Recycled Sewage Vote Fails

and it's a good thing! The IPR pilot project is still on track, although a little late. Thumbs up to Councilmember Kevin Faulconer for voting to honor the already issued contract.

From the Voice of San Diego...

The City Council voted 5-3 (on July 7th) to reject Councilwoman Sherri Lightner's request to revoke a $438,000 contract that's a key part of the city's examination of recycled sewage as a drinking-water source.

Lightner, Carl DeMaio and Tony Young voted in favor of revoking the contract; Donna Frye, Todd Gloria, Marti Emerald, Ben Hueso and Kevin Faulconer supported maintaining it.

Faulconer, who has opposed sewage recycling in previous votes, served as the swing vote. His spokesman said yesterday that Faulconer didn't support reneging on an already issued contract.

While some sewage recycling proponents worry that Lightner's request signals an end to their once solid majority on the council, Lightner said she does support the concept so long as it comes with "fiscal responsibility and public health protections."

Click Here
for the Voice of SD article.

CLICK HERE for a more in-depth story about the vote and water resue that I just came across from the SD Union-Tribune. Here's part of it...

"More than a decade after San Diego started looking at how to turn wastewater back into tap water, the proposal remains in a political quagmire and city officials have lost a major chance to win federal stimulus money for it.

The City Council took a small step yesterday to preserve the latest water-reuse effort, which supporters call reservoir augmentation and critics dub “toilet to tap.” The council kept a $420,000 contract to study one part of the plan.

But the overall project's future is increasingly tenuous. Before the City Council's makeup changed in December, the concept was backed by five of the eight council members. Now three are opposed, four are in favor and Sherri Lightner says she is unsure."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Oh La La! Sexy Water Recycling Embraced in San Diego!

According to a San Diego County Water Authority Study, Attitudes and Perceptions are Changing Concerning Water Recycling

• Respondents (85 percent) are largely aware that recycled water is already in use in San Diego County for irrigation and other non-drinking water purposes. Residents (89 percent either strongly favor or somewhat favor) support the use of recycled water for non-drinking purposes, and this finding is consistent with previous surveys.

• Over one-half (53 percent) of respondents believe that it is possible to treat recycled water to make it is pure and safe for drinking, and over one third (35 percent) think that drinking water already contains recycled water. Among those who hold this belief, 22 percent feel this way because the water tastes or smells bad, and 18 percent learned about the use of recycled water through the media.

• Over three-fifths (63 percent) of the respondents either strongly favor or somewhat favor advanced treated recycled water as an addition to the supply of drinking water. Support for recycled water in all of its proposed or current uses is significantly stronger among those who know that it is presently being used in the County than it is among those without such knowledge. The interest in using recycled water for drinking purposes has increased substantially since 2005 when 28 percent either strongly favored or somewhat favored such use of recycled water.

• It is noteworthy that approximately 40 percent of those who were originally not strongly in favor of using recycled water for drinking purposes would find it acceptable if it received advanced treatment and upon learning about certain other safety provisions to be undertaken.

• More specifically, it is most interesting of all is that 30%-47% of those who are initially not
sure or somewhat opposed to the use of recycled water for drinking can be positively influenced.

2009 Public Opinion Poll Report Rea & Parker Research San Diego County Water Authority April, 2009