Two of San Diego’s biggest water treatment plants are in North County. Both are having some problems.

First, there’s the desalination plant in Carlsbad. It’s the largest facility of its kind in the country that takes ocean water and makes it drinkable.

Over the last year, the privately owned Carlsbad plant failed to deliver nearly a fifth of the water the San Diego County Water Authority ordered from it. Why? The various problems at the plant include mechanical failures, regulatory wrinkles that will almost certainly be ironed out and some things beyond the plant’s control, including an algal bloom.

Second, there’s the Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant in San Marcos, which is a more traditional water treatment facility.

The San Marcos plant has also been experiencing problems. It takes “raw” water from the Colorado River or the mountains of Northern California and makes it drinkable. The plant is owned by the Water Authority but operated by a company called CH2M Hill using water treatment technology provided by General Electric. Since at least last summer, the plant’s filtration technology has been fouling up, which means it cannot consistently produce the 100 million gallons per day of water it is supposed to be able to.

The Water Authority is keeping a close eye on problems at both plants but the region’s water supply is not in any danger, thanks to a wet winter that took the state out of a historic drought. When either plant fails to operate, the Water Authority is able to order water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which has a massive water treatment plant in Riverside County.

Ry Rivard

Changes in Oceanside Could Affect Supervisor Race

With two of the declared candidates coming from the Oceanside City Council, two local political developments might change the calculus for the District 5 county supervisor race: the city’s switch to district elections, and the potential vacancy of the mayor’s office.

Earlier this spring, Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood took a break for health reasons, after he suffered another stroke. The Council granted him a 60-day leave, but after that expired, Wood still was absent. He now has another 60 days to return to office, or the position will be declared vacant.

At least two members on the Oceanside City Council have announced their intent to run for supervisor: Jerry Kern, a Republican, and Esther Sanchez, the lone Democrat in the race. San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond, also a Republican, has also announced his intent.

In the last filing period, Desmond outraised Kern by about $50,000 (with a $15,000 loan Desmond made to himself). Desmond also picked up the endorsement of Supervisor Bill Horn. Sanchez didn’t report any fundraising aside from a $1,000 loan she made to her campaign.

Though we don’t know for sure whether Wood will return as mayor, talk in Oceanside is now shifting to how to move on. The Council would have the option of appointing someone, or could let the position go to the next regularly scheduled election, the June 2018 primary.

Kern said he is focused on running for county supervisor, but he didn’t rule out becoming mayor.

“I hope my colleagues and I can come to consensus on how to do the mayor, and how to fill the fifth (Council) seat, without calling a special election,” Kern said by phone. He added that he could also support Councilman Jack Feller or Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery if they were inclined for the position.

Sanchez said she too was committed to the county supervisor race, and given her relationship with the rest of the Oceanside City Council, it would be unlikely they would consider appointing her mayor.

But Sanchez also lives within a newly created City Council district that is set to hold its first election next year. As the incumbent, she can either run again, or finish the remaining two years of her term as an at-large Council member, and run again when the district holds an election in four years.

Encinitas Residents Upset by Ice Cream, Success

The Coast News has captured some absolutely bananas quotes from Encinitas residents who are upset by the success of a local ice cream shop.

Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream Shop is popular. That means lines, customers seeking out bathrooms — some of whom have … sticky hands!

“We can’t pay for all of their people to wipe their butts with our toilet paper,” Valerie Buccieri, who owns a nearby salon, told the paper.

A city planner said the city hasn’t received any complaints about the business or its lack of bathrooms.

San Onofre Waste to Be Moved Offsite

Southern California Edison, which operates the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, announced it will commit to moving waste off site after all as part of a legal settlement.

The Union-Tribune reports that Edison will make a “commercially reasonable” attempt to locate the fuel to another facility, including sites in Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas. The settlement gives Edison 60 days to begin finding a team of experts in engineering, nuclear energy and transportation, and 90 days to hire the team to get the fuel to a new site.

One of the plaintiffs in the case, Citizens Oversight, said the settlement is about the best they could have gotten out of Edison.

“This (settlement) is about the best we can do and I think it’s pretty good,” Ray Lutz told the U-T. “It’s a prudent step in the right direction and a step they (SCE) wouldn’t take at all if it weren’t for the lawsuit that we filed.”

Despite Criminal Investigation, Outlook Is Good for Hunter

Despite a deepening criminal investigation, Rep. Duncan Hunter is still a popular leader in his congressional district.

The Union-Tribune’s Joshua Stewart writes that Hunter still resonates with voters in one of the reddest districts in the state.

Hunter is facing challenges for the office within his own party, from Sheriff Deputy Andrew Zelt, and from the Democrats.

Democrats are still making a strong push for the seat, though, and hope to exploit Hunter’s legal problems, reports Politico.

Still, with Hunter’s military service and family’s name recognition, he’s got the numbers on his side in the conservative district that stretches from East County north to Escondido and San Marcos.

He was one of President Donald Trump’s earliest supporters, and despite all the news out of Washington, Hunter continued to court that crowd in a reassurance, of sorts, that he stands by the president.

“He’s just like he is on TV. He’s an asshole, but he’s our asshole,” Hunter told a group of Young Republicans.

Also in the News

• Oceanside is trying to accommodate two sportfishing businesses in the harbor, after a recent controversy over an expiring lease. (The Coast News)

• Escondido’s elections are also heating up. (Union-Tribune)

 Del Mar fired its popular lifeguard chief over accusations of fraud and mismanagement. (The Coast news)

 Oceanside denied funds for a controversial aquatics center. (The Coast News)

• Escondido voted to privatize its library. (Union-Tribune)

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

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