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Watcher comments that the threat of water rationing has moved public opinion toward water recycling.

It stands to reason that people are more likely to support water recycling if they understand that the alternative is rationing of a resource we take granted. When we turn on the faucet, water comes out. That’s a pretty consistent expectation for San Diegans.

San Diego needs to develop long term solutions to its approaching water crisis. We can’t just put our heads in the sand and hope that the solution will solve itself. Voters can’t let elected officials put off taking action by letting their terms expire before our reservoirs run dry.

Letting people know the consequences to a water shortage is an important part of building the popular political support for water recycling. But there are other opportunities to recruit allies for shoring up San Diego’s water resources.

Developers, often on the opposite side from environmentalists on political issues, also see the need for comprehensives water planning in San Diego. Under new state laws, developers now have to identify the sources of water for new projects. Without conservation and recycling policy, not only will the environment suffer, but so will local businesses.

The Urban Lands Institute of San Diego, a professional organization for real estate professionals, recently hosted a panel explaining to their members the importance of water policy for the future of their local industry. Developers get this. Water planning is crucial to their business.

The environmental community may often disagree with developers on the amount or the type of development that should occur. But we have an opportunity to make common cause on this issue. We can join together to push local officials to create policy to conserve and recycle water resources, so that San Diego can continue to be a city where we want to live and work.

There are still some divides between the environmentalists and the developers on water issues. The prior prefer recycling, and the later often want less energy-efficient desalinization. But there are still important areas of agreement. Both value conservation. It’s becoming ever more fashionable to build to LEED environmental specifications, with structures that are more efficient, and inexpensive to operate. “High performance buildings” use less energy to heat, employ natural daylight, and require less water for irrigation. The water crisis is an opportunity to find some common ground, and to make some policy that’s right for everyone.

— COLIN PARENT

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