In the News

Let’s Debate Desal

KUSP, Gary Patton, Land Use Report, 2/20/12

Desalination is a process by which human beings essentially “manufacture” potable water. Desalination removes the salts from salty water, which is unfit for human use. The process produces what is essentially a new water supply. It’s easy to see the “good” points. If we manufacture our water supply, we don’t have to rely on natural systems and the hydrologic cycle. We put human beings in direct control of one of the resources we absolutely need to live. The City of Santa Cruz and the Soquel Creek Water District are proposing a “desal” plant to help avoid scarcity in times of drought, and to allow the pumps of Soquel Creek to do less pumping of a nearly overdrafted aquifer.

The arguments on the other side are also good. Manufacturing water costs big bucks, both to construct the manufacturing facility, and then to operate it. The process uses mammoth amounts of energy, and contributes to global warming, and when ocean water is the source, the process kills marine life as the water is sucked in, and as concentrated brine is put back into the marine environment.

This Wednesday, February 22nd, the Student Environmental Center at UCSC is hosting a “Desal Debate,” at 5:30 p.m. in the Stevenson Fireside Lounge. Former Santa Cruz Mayor Mike Rotkin and I will face off on the issues. You are definitely invited!

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