The last few weeks saw San Diego Mayor Sander veto a critical water recycling project that would provide a safe, municipally-owned source of water for the region, the Coastal Commission approve a desalination project that will continue a legacy a coastal destruction and exacerbate global warming, and the San Diego City Council move ahead with plans to apply for an exemption from federally-mandated secondary treatment standards for our Point Loma Wastewater Treatment facility. All-in-all, a bad month for our coast and a telling statement about the state of our leadership that still opts forthe easy way out rather than making difficult choices that are in the best long-term interest of our region.

Before I go on the offensive against our elected and agency officials and community leaders who have been reeled in hook-line-and-sinker by false promises — if not outright lies about desalination — it is important to first take a moment for self-reflection. The environmental community, with its limited resources, came to this battle late and we have not yet been able to recover against a Poseidon Resources campaign that several Coastal Commissioners and elected officials have called the most organized they have ever seen. That does not mean our concerns are not valid, nor does it render incorrect our conclusion that the proposed Carlsbad Desalination Plant (CDP) is a boondoggle that will have significant impacts on our local environment — only that we have not yet articulated our opposition clearly enough to the public, and not quickly enough to key decision-makers.

This admission does not absolve agency and elected officials of their responsibility to follow the laws they are sworn to uphold, and to provide leadership in pursuing policies that are in the best interest of the region, even at times against well-organized opposition. While we may have come late to the game, the environmental community did in fact put together what should have been a compelling case against the CDP, which was presented to these officials prior to and at the Coastal Commission hearing.

That our agency and elected representatives chose to ignore valid and significant concerns laid out by the environmental community and the Coastal Commission staff and instead put us on a dangerous path for our region falls squarely on their shoulders.

My following posts will hopefully clearly and succinctly outline why we are opposed to the CDP, what better options are available to develop local, drought-proof water supplies, and why we are disappointed in many of our decision-makers who have chosen convenience over thoughtfulness, promises over facts, and short-term gain over long-term protection.


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