By George J. Janczyn/ Groksurf / July 1, 2010
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders just yesterday announced a new recycled water hookup with Canyonside Park for landscaping irrigation (see video of announcement).
In his speech, Mayor Sanders proclaimed:
“Finding more uses for recycled water is an important way to maximize resources.”
Councilmember Sherri Lightner also spoke, saying:
“I have always and will continue to support the expansion of recycled water in San Diego as a smart reuse of water and as a water conservation measure.”
Was this really a sign of wholehearted support for water reuse, or was it just lip service?
That item should hardly be making the news. It belatedly brings the City a little closer to compliance with a 1989 City ordinance mandating the widespread use of recycled water. It’s a good, but modest project using only 13 million gallons of recycled water per year.
On the other hand, a few Councilmembers (probably with the Mayor’s secret blessings) actively resist implementation of a water reuse project that could produce an additional 16 million gallons of potable water per day, a project that was approved by the full Council years ago.
- On October 29, 2007, after considerable debate and public discussion, the City Council voted to approve the Indirect Potable Reuse Demonstration Project.
- On November 14, 2007, Mayor Sanders vetoed the resolution.
- On December 3, 2007, the City Council voted to override the Mayor’s veto and directed him to develop a plan to begin the potable reuse demonstration project by July 2008.
- On November 18, 2008, the City Council approved a temporary water rate increase to fully fund the Demonstration Project.
- In May 2009, the Public Utilities Department issued a Request for Proposals for Project Management and Public Outreach for the project.
- On Jan. 26, 2010, the San Diego City Council directed the Mayor to execute “an Agreement between the City of San Diego and RMC Water and Environment, to perform the Project Management and Public Outreach for the Demonstration Project.
In summary: the City got so far as to approve the Indirect Potable Reuse Reservoir Augmentation Demonstration Project (aka Water Purification Demonstration Project), then approved a contract for project management and public outreach, and the next step was to approve a contract to build the facility to treat the water. How did that go?
Two weeks ago, at the June 16 Natural Resources and Culture Committee meeting, the contract to build the facility was blocked from going to the full Council because Councilmembers Sherri Lightner and Carl DeMaio still had objections to the basic premise of the project and they forced a continuation of the matter saying they needed answers to more questions.
On July 1st, the Natural Resources and Culture Committee held a special followup meeting to address those questions.
Lightner, for all her earlier interest in continuing the matter so that her questions could be answered, didn’t even show up for the meeting. That left DeMaio. Marti Emerald quickly made the motion to recommend council approval (Donna Frye obviously would vote yes). DeMaio didn’t bother asking questions and only reiterated that he remains steadfastly opposed to the project and would not vote for the committee to recommend approval of the contract. So the vote was taken and that’s how the matter will be sent to the Council.
We’re obviously dealing with foot-dragging by disgruntled politicians intent on hindering an already-approved project.
Please, it’s time to move on.