GrokSurf's San Diego

Local observations on water, environment, technology, law & politics

Don’t worry, be happy, our water’s safe

Posted by George J Janczyn on December 17, 2009

“It’s way too premature to push the panic button.”

Sort of like “very unique.” That’s what Dennis Cushman, assistant general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority is quoted saying in today’s Union-Tribune front-page story about the Superior Court lawsuit challenging the Quantification Settlement Agreement-based contract for transferring water from Imperial Valley to San Diego.

This is the 4th or 5th time I’ve heard or read of a water official or politician revoking the panic button in the last week or so.

No matter how the lawsuit gets decided, it’s a side-issue. The bigger issue is San Diego’s excessive reliance on imported water. Instead of inducing complacency about our water supply by repeating a politically expedient dismissal of this threatening case and making San Diegans more at ease about our water supply, our local water leaders and lawmakers should use this as an opportunity to vigorously pursue an increase in public understanding of the need to support projects that reduce our dependence on imported water.

The construction of a desalination plant in Carlsbad will certainly contribute new water to the county’s pipelines, although it’s an extremely expensive operation for producing water locally.

Curiously, as an aside, local media and water officials have been silent about the federal lawsuit that also threatens the water transfer.

But one more potentially large new source of potable local water lingers in the background, as I wrote a few days ago in water reuse is imperative for a sustainable San Diego, and it’s less expensive than desalination. Instead of sidetracking public sentiment with cliche “don’t worry” statements, our leaders need to reinforce and hold the long-term view in the public mind. Water reuse is one area that could use more attention.

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