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“Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”
— Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
It seems every time I end up on Café San Diego, there is a key study or critical hearing coming up on water supply issues, and today is no exception. So I will apologize in advance for blogging on issues I’ve previously touched upon on these pages, but with the California Coastal Commission and State Lands Commission holding August hearings on the Carlsbad Desalination Plant (‘CDP’) that will shape much of our local water supply policy and impact California’s water and energy debate for years to come, I feel again obliged to address this issue. With that said, there are many issues that Coastkeeper works on, from reducing urban runoff and sewage pollution to creating marine reserves to addressing marine debris and our toxic waterways, and I encourage you to check out our website to learn about these campaigns. But today I will again focus on desalination, water recycling and conservation.
As Coastkeeper has been labeled at previous hearings as anti-growth, anti-development and anti-desalination (none of which are accurate characterizations), let me start my first entry by simply making our positions clear. Coastkeeper believes that based on environmental impact, reliability and cost, San Diego must prioritize its water supply strategies as follows:
1. Conservation – San Diego should strive to achieve comparable per household/per capita water usage as the best performing cities with similar climates, and should implement all measures needed to achieve this goal.
2. Water Recycling and Reuse – In accordance with the City of San Diego 2005 Water Reuse Survey, the City of San Diego should move forward as expeditiously as possible to implement a mix of potable and non-potable uses for recycled water to maximize the beneficial use of recycled water at the lowest per-unit cost.
3. Desalination(using subsurface intakes) – Desalination projects must be properly sited and designed, and employ the best available technology to minimize any adverse impacts to the environment, including impingement and entrainment associated with open-ocean intake desalination and greenhouse gas emissions. Open-ocean desalination, which is the most environmentally damaging and energy intensive strategy to create local water, should be pursued as a last resort after other strategies, including desalination using subsurface intakes, have been fully implemented.
My next entry will focus on the upcoming Coastal Commission and State Lands Commission hearings and what protections Coastkeeper is seeking from these agencies.