In the News

Letter to the Editor

Nice ‘Ebb & Flow’

Good Times, 12/26/12

Regarding “Ebb & Flow: The Desal Debate Evolves” (GT 12/13), it was an outstanding example of journalism. Although CalDesal membership was briefly mentioned, voters and water ratepayers deserve to know more about this less-than-transparent relationship.

CalDesal is a registered lobbyist firm that advocates for desal development and environmental deregulation. CalDesal’s activities and membership are kept secret, however, cash-strapped Santa Cruz pays a $5,000 annual membership fee. Furthermore, Water Department Director Bill Kocher serves on the executive committee.

CalDesal’s website states, “There has never been a more important time to commit to locally produced desalinated water. Opponents of desalination are better funded and better organized than the water industry. But not for long! Help us engage, level the playing field and make desalination a reality.”

At the behest of the CalDesal president, Kocher wrote John Laird, Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, discouraging specific environmental protection measures to limit hazardous seawater desal practices. See opc.ca.gov/webmaster/ftp/pdf/public_comment/20110907_City_of_Santa_Cruz_Water_Dept.pdf)

Interestingly, Kocher presented at both CalDesal Conference sessions in Sacramento (Oct. 25-26) and Irvine (Oct. 29-30) costing the city $1,100 in travel expenses. Closed to the public and news media, the conference came only a week before Measure P passed and at a time when many communities are reassessing, shelving, or cancelling their desal plans due to escalating costs, environmental risks, and public opposition. (http://news.yahoo.com/desalination-no-panacea-calif-water-woes-174531736.html)

This political relationship is of particular concern in environmentally vigilant Santa Cruz, where citizens are increasingly skeptical about the efficacy of building a publically funded desal plant.

Paul Gratz

Co-author of Measure P

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