In the News


'Sustainable' means I can have a future

by Kimberly Schneider
Santa Cruz Sentinel, 11/4/12

This is a very personal statement. I am a student at UC Santa Cruz, just about to graduate. Dec. 5 will be my 22nd birthday.

Dec. 5 is also the day that the Local Agency Formation Commission is scheduled to decide whether or not to approve the extension of city water service to UCSC. If the City and UCSC applications are approved, the university will proceed to build more than 3 million square feet of new construction in what has been a nature reserve, shutting down an important "open air classroom" and impacting endangered species. Many UCSC students, faculty and staff question this plan for the future growth of the university. I do, too, but I am most concerned with the water policy impacts.

In February 2011, LAFCO adopted water policies that state the commission's objective "to ensure that its decisions relating to water do not lead to adverse impacts on the natural resources of Santa Cruz County." Specifically, the commission stated there must be an "adequate, reliable, and sustainable supply of water" before LAFCO will approve proposals to extend water service into areas that don't have such service. The UCSC North Campus definitely fits that definition.

I am very grateful to LAFCO for having adopted this "sustainability" policy. Here is what the word "sustainable" means to me: "Sustainable" means that I can have a future.

I have studied water policy at UCSC. There is really no debate that all over the world, including right here, we are overstressing water supplies, putting future generations in jeopardy. Our current water diversions from the San Lorenzo River already jeopardize the habitat of threatened and endangered fish populations. The construction of an unpopular desalination plant could very well be turned down by voters in the coming years, so we currently do not have an "adequate, reliable or sustainable" source of water in Santa Cruz.

The supply of water on this planet is finite and has been treated too much like a commodity over the past century. If this mindset continues, what does the future hold for my generation? Without a commitment to genuine sustainability, my generation will face over-pumped groundwater aquifers, dried-up streambeds and rivers, and the irreversible loss of our redwood forests.

As far as I am concerned, I and my children are the future generation that the LAFCO policies are intended to protect.

I will be attending the LAFCO hearing on Dec. 5. I will be sitting in the audience hoping that the LAFCO commissioners do the right thing, and follow their adopted water policies. The decisions our officials make today affect the livelihood of my generation, and I implore those who are making these decisions to take this into account.

Kimberly Schneider is a student at UC Santa Cruz majoring in environmental studies.

© 2008-2013 scwd2 Desalination Program, All rights reserved.