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Alex Roth, spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders, wouldn’t comment before my story ran detailing how tap water customers are subsidizing the water bills of 475 golf courses, homeowners associations and biotechs who buy reclaimed water from San Diego’s purple pipe system.

But he called today to protest my continued citations of a confidential draft study that estimates the subsidy at $10.6 million annually.

“That draft is just a draft,” Roth said. “Those figures aren’t accurate. They make a number of assumptions that aren’t sound.”

For example, Roth said, the city’s analysts estimated debt repayment over a 15-year period and not a more typical 30-year period, which could skew results.

(Those analysts, from Raftelis Financial Consultants, a private firm, are scheduled to be re-hired for $50,000 to redo the analysis. If the deal gets City Council approval, it’ll be complete in six months.)

Criticizing the subsidy, Roth told me, ignores the benefits that reclaimed water provides: A new source of water that keeps the city from having to import scarce supplies from far away. He acknowledged that questions exist about the legality of the current price of reclaimed water. “It’s one of the reasons we’re doing this price study,” he said.

— ROB DAVIS

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