Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Water, water anywhere?

This was originally submitted to the North County Times and never ran.

sub: nct 2/11/10 @1159
Merriam Mountains and Rancho Guejito are both developments of over 500 dwelling units. As such, they are subject to a California Code that “prohibits a city or county from approving development agreements, parcel maps or tentative tract maps for any subdivision with more than 500 dwelling units unless a sufficient water supply is, or will be, available for the development prior to its completion. “

Given those conditions you have to wonder how project developer NNP Stonegate-Merriam ever got that verification, or that the Rodney Company (for Rancho Guejito) ever hopes to.

California’s Government Code 66473.7 also requires proposed residential developments of more than 500 dwelling units to submit verification from the local agency (in the case of Merriam Mountains it’s the Vallecito Water District) that such supply is, or will be, available prior to completion of the project.

So consider these facts:: 1. Our overuse of water from the Colorado River has been cut back because other states now want their full share, 2. State Water Project (SWP) supply is cut back due to environmental and engineering problems, and no timeline exists as to when/if it will return to full flow. 3. Drought conditions continue, and 4. the Imperial Irrigation District transfer of Colorado River water to San Diego is in legal limbo.

Those sources of water comprise approximately 80-90% of our water supply annually. Two of them -- Colorado River water and the SWP water -- are purchased by the San Diego Water Authority (SDWA) from the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), who are projecting a shortfall of 251,000 acre-feet of water in their chart for the year 2010. And a note attached to the chart reads: “Estimated demands include 235,000 AF of extraordinary conservation under MWD’s 5-Year Supply Plan.” How much further can we cut back if they fail in their plans? How “extraordinary” must we be? The other sources remain questionable also. Obviously, our water supply problems are not caused by drought alone, nor were they all problems when the Merriam Mountains Water Supply Assessment was produced in 2007.

Meanwhile, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) “2030 Regional Growth Forecast Update”, released in September of 2006, says that “By the year 2030 the San Diego region will grow by approximately one million people . . . “

We’ve got supply problems causing a mandatory reduction of water usage and we’re growing by about one million people? I’d say there isn’t a sufficient water supply for them now.

But the code doesn’t stop at “now.” It also says “will be.” That and mandatory conservation are where County Supervisors and the local agency find a way to approve these and other projects.

Desalination is the SDWA favored “will be” solution. The Carlsbad plant. along with possible plants at Camp Pendleton, Chula Vista and the South Bay Ocean Outfall Site are all options discussed by the SDWA Water Planning Committee -- even one at Rosarito Beach in Mexico. But the Carlsbad desalination plant can only supply “50 million gallons of fresh water a day, enough for 9 percent of the county's needs” (NCT 7 December, 2009.) Nine percent is far short of that needed by a swarm of new residents. Four plants at the same capacity might fill the need, but when? And at what cost? Do we really have a stable supply of water for the future?

And then there is this: A complete Annual Water Supply Report as required by Water Authority Administration Code is not available. As noted in the Water Committee meeting minutes of January 28 this year the “Staff was unable to draft Supply Report for Committee consideration because Metropolitan’s Integrated Resource Plan, critical to completing the report, has not yet been updated to reflect changed conditions associated with the State Water Project. Next report is scheduled for 2011, with the Urban Water Management Plan prepared in 2010.”

Given all of the above, how can County Supervisors decide that sufficient water supply exists, or will exist, to approved the Merriam Mountain project? Isn’t an updated Water Supply Assessment needed for the project? ‘Doesn’t “will be” require at least some certainty of future improved supply? Where is that in the face of recent SWP cutbacks, IID transfer legal problems and expected legal challenges to yet more desalination plants? What about Rancho Guejito and other as yet unknown large projects ahead?

Shouldn’t we plan water supply on the worst case scenario and without putting rigorous conservation measures on the backs of the residents of San Diego County? Aren’t current residents are being hung out to dry?
John Lynn is a resident of Carlsbad 770

John Lynn has written about are issues that would have gone completely unaddressed by the local media without his input. He is the guy who does the tedious research that the rest of us aren't doing and he asks his elected representatives, "what's up with that?" He then shares his perspective on their response (or lack there of) with the public.

See Also:
San Diego Finds More Water
No Answers from State Rep Garrick


  1. Watch the movie Chinatown for answers to the water issue. Old film but still relevant, IMHO.

  2. Gee I spent my lunch staring at an ocean of water. Doesn't seem to me to be any shortage....other than the will to desalinate.

  3. Obama thinks healthcare is power, WRONG!!
    Water is POWER!!! Ask the farmers of the Imperial Valley.

  4. 336,

    Gee seems like a great idea until you know something about desal. It costs a shitload and produces ungodly amounts of CO2. Once you start pumping water uphill things get worse.

  5. 350-when you are thirsty...you'll pay any price for water.

    Water is POWER.

  6. Let's build a park with five huge grass fields.

  7. 3:39- You're right. Obama gave some water to the dying Central Valley in order to buy off two Congressmen for ObamaCare.

    When you have the power to destroy entire Congressional districts by taking away their water, you can get just about anything you want.

  8. From what I read of desalination, it's rapidly becoming cost-effective for domestic use, but not for agriculture (because domestic users already pay exhorbitant rates to subsidize farmers).

    Maybe we shouldn't be growing rice in a desert. But hey, what do I know?

  9. Not to mention 500 million gallons or distilled rain water that runs back into the ocean every time we get a good storm in Encinitas. (Cause I mention that almost as much as my sister's wrongful conviction)

  10. WC,

    What do you mean by this comment:

    "because domestic users already pay exhorbitant rates to subsidize farmers"

    What evidence do you have that domestic users are "subsidizing" farmers?

    PS: do you grow all your own food, so you don't need farmers?

  11. where (if anywhere) did you get the assumption that President Obama thinks health care is "power."

    Please, i would like an actual cited quote that says anything like that. you can't make up what someone "thinks" just so that you can say they're wrong.

    am i the only one that was forced to take a college logic class? (it was terrible, it's all word problems)

    also please, w.c. (water closet) you can't say "you're right" to a statement and back it with loose "facts."

    the best i could do was this
    "Probably, says the Republican National Committee." (from californiawatch.org)
    no actual person... just the "committee"

    i searched google for "central valley water for healthcare" and naturally the top five hits are tea party this and resistnet that...

    blogs of angry people are not reliable sources. sorry, but they're not.

  12. 11:01 Try this.

    But if you want to believe there are no quid pro quos in Congress, it was just a huge coincidence, and Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama don't play hardball Chicago politics, you're entitled to your delusions.

  13. I work in the water planning industry and the Urban Water Management Plan that every water utility must prepare to evaluate their future water supply is pretty much a worthless document. I have never read one (and I've read many) that say there won't be enough water for future development. The individual plans aren't coordinated with each other, and because of this the same water source is allocated to multiple cities or districts in dry years, hence everyone has enough water. Also, the projections for future recycled water usage and conservation efforts are usually very overstated. So that is why projects get approved.

  14. problem, water closet...

    your "article" is full of opinion and cites other "articles" that were written by republican congressmen (which makes them not "articles" but opinion pieces)

    also... seriously? this is what is wrong with whipping up fervor...

    “I’m guessing those events are closely linked,” Fox News Channel talker Sean Hannity declared Wednesday night, while the screen text asked beneath a picture of Costa and Cardoza, “Were (California) congressmen bribed with water provision?”

    Bribery is a specific crime. It is a felony, distinct from the traditional horse trading and favor-granting that lubricates legislation. Fox presented no evidence of criminal behavior.

    so fox news is "guessing" and accusing but there's no story there... let it go.

    how many republican (and democrat) senators bent over and took it from the Bush administration over a WAR... a WAR, not getting health care for people, a WAR. a war that y'all conveniently forget when you're crying about having to pay taxes for health care. how much of your tax money has gone to fund seven years of a pointless war in iraq? i think your kids will be more pissed at you over that in the long run than getting them affordable health care if, god forbid, they ever get sick and can't pay for it.

    you are also entitled to your delusions which sadly are far more delusional.

  15. You know the leftists have run out of arguments when they change the subject and start foaming at the mouth about Bush.

  16. And who said anything about affordable health care?

    Premiums will increase under ObamaCare because of all of the new mandates on insurance companies.

    For example, affordable catastrophic insurance is banned under ObamaCare, and people are required to buy expensive, government-approved, comprehensive coverage.

    Now many healthy people will opt to pay the fine which is much cheaper than purchasing the mandatory, full-coverage ObamaCare. Then they only buy ObamaCare if and when they get sick, which raises the costs for everyone else.

    If Obama really cared about reducing the cost of health care, he would have gone after prescription drug pricing and medical liability reform. But he cut backroom deals with Big Pharma and the trial lawyers for political support, guaranteeing that we will continue to have the most expensive health care in the world, paying far more than other countries do for the exact same American-developed drugs. Hope and change!

    So I think the children would be better off with sensible health care reforms than with this 2000-page, cost-increasing, big government monstrosity.

    But hey, government health care works great in Britain!

  17. As usual Varones is too stupid to understand the real numbers. Typical reactionary teabagger child.


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