In the News

As You See It: Readers respond to Deconstructing Desal

Santa Cruz Sentinel, 10/1/12

There are cheaper alternatives

I read quotes in the Sentinel that desalination of seawater is the cheapest alternative. What about wastewater harvest? What about watershed protection and enhancement? Repeatedly I read about studies that found that wastewater harvest is cheaper and more environmental friendly. Wastewater harvest is more than just capturing water from liquid sewage. It includes harvesting runoff from roads, parking and agriculture. Numerous other potential sources for "harvest" exist. What about alternatives to treatment plants when businesses and housing threaten water-supply quality? Might expanding sewage lines to homes forced to utilize septic tanks be a more cost-effective measure? I agree we must take action to ensure supplies of quality water. Let's look at all options and not just "run with" desal.

Richard Buddington, Santa Cruz

Wastewater reuse must be examined

Santa Cruz is squirming over $5.5 million to pipe wastewater to golf courses? What about a brown golf course? Thanks for your series on desalination. Recently the National Academy of Sciences' Water Science and Technology Board issued a report on treating wastewater: "Water Reuse: Potential for Expanding the Nation's Water Supply Through Reuse of Municipal Wastewater." It notes, "With recent advances in technology and treatment design, potable reuse can reduce the concentration of chemical and microbial contaminants to levels comparable to or lower than those present in many drinking water supplies." The process is by far cheaper than desal, shares waste-discarding technology developed by NASA, but hasn't caught on because of the "yuck" factor. I encourage your readers to read this report. The thought of tampering with our beautiful bay while spending $123 million should shed positive light on this means of increasing our water supply.

Beth Ahrens-Kley, Santa Cruz

Series needed to touch on growth

Sometimes, I do wish reporters would go more in depth with their reporting. A large contributing factor with water shortages is growth, which is never addressed as a concern. The state even wants water usage slashed by 20 percent by 2020? Of course. Remember our governor's pet project, a whopper of a new town to develop in the Salton Sea, hundreds of miles away from here, which will need water shipped from Northern California? Of course we must only cut our usage, not curtail growth. Hello!

Markina Willig, Felton

City's numbers make no sense

Your Friday article on desalination has a sidebar entitled "Projected Growth and Demand." It quotes the Santa Cruz Water Department's projected population growth from 92,165 in 2010 to 101,700 in 2030. That is a growth of 10.3 percent for the 20-year period. Remarkably, the water demand projection for the same period goes from 3.1 billion gallons (actual use) in 2010 to 4.04 billion gallons in 2030, a growth in consumption/demand of 30.3 percent, or three times the rate of population growth. It seems obvious that the city is gaming the consumption/demand projections to justify the building of an expensive project. A 10 percent population growth could easily be accommodated within our current level of consumption if we intensify conservation measures and other alternatives to desal. Future articles may also note that, based on past history for public works projects, the $123 million current cost estimate is probably half of what it will ultimately cost.

Aldo Giacchino, Santa Cruz

Measure P needs public's support

I appreciated your extensive series on the pros and cons of desalination, and was pleased to see that almost all council members and council candidates said they needed to review the EIR before making up their minds. I note that the Sentinel itself has no such hesitation, and already thinks it knows that desal is the answer. Right now, the most important thing is to ensure that the voters will have the final say. I hope Sentinel readers who vote within the city will vote yes on Measure P to guarantee the public's right to make the final decision on desal. The Sentinel series makes clear the huge cost and environmental consequences involved, whichever way the community ultimately goes. By voting yes on Measure P, we can guarantee our right to vote on desal, once the facts are all in!

Gary Patton, Santa Cruz

Garden solution

I was disappointed that two of the most abundant sources of water, graywater and rainwater, were skipped in recent discussions of the desal plant. Over 3 million gallons of Santa Cruz graywater go into the ocean daily, and during the rainy season millions of gallons of rainwater flood our streets. These can be harvested now. Gardens can be retrofitted to be water neutral by using native and drought-loving plants, implementing effective water management, and using gray and rainwater. Thirty to 70 percent of our municipal water use is in the garden; if we eliminated that, we would save money and reduce the environmental impact to our ocean and climate. Since viable alternatives exist, how could I vote yes for a desalination plant?

Golden Love, Santa Cruz

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