In the News

The Desalination Debate
Land Use Report, Gary Patton, KUSP, 4/22/11

The great “desalination debate” held in Santa Cruz on Thursday, April 24th, was well attended, and I thought extremely informative. The League of Women Voters of Santa Cruz County deserves kudos for running what amounted to a flawless program. The debate, of course, focused on the plans of the City of Santa Cruz, and the Soquel Creek Water District, to build a new desalination plant, taking water out of the ocean, and then converting it by a reverse osmosis process into something we can drink and use to water our lawns.

The cost, if the project goes forward, will probably be upwards of $100 million dollars, based on what I heard at the debate. Whether we should be spending that kind of cash on a high-tech drought protection system, or whether we should invest, instead, in more conservation and a better sharing of regional water resources, was really the meat of the discussion. There are some arguments on both sides, all well displayed at the debate. Will the voters get to decide?

Speaking for the Santa Cruz City Council was former Council Member and Mayor Mike Rotkin. I thought his answer to a question about whether the voters should get to weigh in was revealing. In essence, he said that if the voters want to have their say, the voters will have to qualify their own referendum or initiative; no promises that the City Council itself, or the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors, will ask for the voters’ opinion. I’d say, start studying up!

For KUSP, this is Gary Patton.

More Information
Gary Patton writes a daily blog, “Two Worlds / 365” –
Sentinel article on desalination debate –
Desal Alternatives Website –
City/Soquel Creek Desalination Website -
League of Women Voters of Santa Cruz County Website -

*The Wittwer & Parkin law firm is located in Santa Cruz, California, and practices environmental and governmental law. As part of its practice, the law firm files litigation and takes other action on behalf of its clients, which are typically private individuals, governmental agencies, environmental organizations, or community groups. Whenever the Land Use Report comments on an issue with which the Wittwer & Parkin law firm is involved on behalf of a client, Mr. Patton will make this relationship clear, as part of his commentary. Mr. Patton’s comments do not represent the views of Wittwer & Parkin, LLP, KUSP Radio, nor of any of its sponsors.

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