In the News

Letters to the Editor: Desal and U

By Alan Holbert, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Weekly, 08/26/2009

I am writing to correct a misstatement made by Santa Cruz Water director Bill Kocher ("Desal and the Public Process," Posts, Aug. 5). Commenting on the city's plans for a desalination plant, Kocher said the following: "The desalination project is in no way linked to any expansion of the UC-Santa Cruz campus." This is simply not true.

The city and the university jointly signed a "Comprehensive Settlement Agreement" that was incorporated into a Superior Court Judgment dated Sept. 12, 2008. Exhibit B to the Agreement says this: "The Santa Cruz City Water Department (SCCWD) intends to pursue the phased incremental implementation of a desalination plant on the Westside of Santa Cruz. The parties ... agree that the assumptions related to the scope and nature of the desalination plant are as follows: ... Phase Two (and subsequent phases) would be implemented to accommodate future growth in system demand."

In other words, the city has officially promised the University in a formal agreement to pursue a "Phase Two" and subsequent phases of the desalination project to meet "system demand," which most definitely includes the proposed growth of UC-Santa Cruz. 

The city is also pursuing an application at the Local Agency Formation Commission that will result in the allocation of  virtually all the city's remaining "surplus" water (if there actually is any such surplus water) to allow the construction of over 3 million square feet of new construction on the UCSC North Campus. Current water customers may or may not face a hookup moratorium because of this.

Whatever the merits of the UCSC-City Settlement Agreement, city officials should at least be accurate when they describe what it requires. It requires the city to pursue desalination (certainly subject to environmental review) to accommodate UCSC and other growth.

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