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.