In the News

Letter to the Editor

Santa Cruz Sentinel, 4/27/11

Desal a last choice

It was inevitable but it's already raised its ugly head. The desal plant proposal is offered as a backup to deal with an occasional period of drought. Gary Patton, in his Sunday opinion piece, though, speaks of it as the key consideration in determining city growth -- build a plant and let development rip. For one thing, Mr. Patton and others of his persuasion need to understand is that desalination, especially of seawater, is always a last choice when it comes to providing a community with potable water. Saudi Arabia, which can afford pretty much anything it wants, would give up desalinating ocean water in a minute if only there were a few natural rivers and springs around to get water from. Desalinating is not only enormously expensive; it's also hugely problematic when it comes to operation and maintenance. It's not just a matter of dropping a straw in the ocean and sucking it dry. It would be good if those who think they favor it would quit saying "desal" and think they've solved the problem of providing the community with potable water. There's a whole lot of troublesome reality lying within the term that its proponents either don't realize or choose to ignore.

Lawrence Johsens, Santa Cruz

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