In the News

Letters to the Editor: Shock and Awe

By Doug Deitch, Executive Director, Monterey Bay Conservancy

Santa Cruz Weekly, 09/09/2009

I READ with great amazement, shock and awe the statement by Ms. Laura Brown, general manager of Soquel Creek Water District, and Mr. Bill Kocher, Santa Cruz water czar ("Conservation Not Enough," Letters, Sept. 2): "By supplementing groundwater supplies with desalination, the District will be able to limit groundwater pumping to within the sustainable yield and prevent seawater intrusion from contaminating the aquifers [plural]." This is disingenuous at the very best.

Apparently, Ms. Brown and Mr. Kocher should reread Ms. Brown's 1996 Aptos Times article (which can be found online at http://dougforsupervisor.com/Aptos_Times96.htm), wherein Ms. Brown describes how one-third of Soquel Creek's water supply comes from wells in the same aquifer, the Aromas Red Sands, that Pajaro and the Farm Bureau uses around 90 percent of at around 200 percent overdraft to grow around 25 percent of this country's berries annually ... thereby permanently losing 15,000 acre feet of their shared supply to salt water intrusion each year for decades, exported in berries! And earning UC a cool $5 million a year in berry IP royalty payments, UC's fifth-biggest yearly revenue generator.

We would have to build around seven new 24/7 $100 million Santa Cruz desal plants yearly (before operations and maintenance) just to keep even, global warming or not. The late Marc Reisner, author of Cadillac Desert, said 12 years ago here that our situation in Soquel Creek and Pajaro was the worst in the world. By what type of 1984 doublethink can this be considered preventing "seawater intrusion from contaminating the aquifers"? With this Water

Weltanschauung, Soquel Creek and Santa Cruz ratepayers better consider the distinct possibility of their being up "the" creek without a paddle or any water either. How tough that be, and where will Ms. Brown and Mr. Kocher be then retired to?

One statement in the letter is undeniably true, though: "Our local water supplies are not sustainable for the current population"--but only of berry plants, not humans, I'm afraid. For example, after its expansion, UCSC will use annually, in total, less water than does 200 acres of berries: 600 acre feet a year. That's why I call this a Water Berry Ponzi Scheme.

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