GrokSurf's San Diego

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

San Diego’s Natural Resources and Culture Committee hoists new website

Posted by George J Janczyn on February 14, 2011

The San Diego City Council’s Natural Resources and Culture (NR&C) Committee has a new website:

Click on image to visit the website

The NR&C committee has new membership following last fall’s city elections. David Alvarez replaces Donna Frye as chair, and Lorie Zapf takes Marti Emerald’s place. Carl DeMaio and Sherri Lightner retain their previous memberships.

This committee plays an important role in shaping water policy issues for the San Diego City Council. Whether this new website evolves into a useful resource remains to be seen. For now it’s a template with basic meeting and membership information.

The first meeting of NR&C in 2011 was Feb 2, but the group managed only to dispense with a few items of routine business at that meeting. The most important agenda item (in my opinion), a discussion of the committee’s important priorities for the coming year, pretty much never happened other than to acknowledge receipt of memorandums from each member on the subject. DeMaio didn’t even stay at the meeting for that part of the agenda (here’s my earlier report from that meeting).

On the subject of water, Sherri Lightner’s memo has the most information, mostly recalling her previous efforts to reconcile conflicting water policies and to generate a renewed comprehensive water policy. Carl DeMaio’s memo simply highlights water pricing issues that his mayoral campaign has centered on, and newcomer Lori Zapf’s memo is largely silent on water issues. Chairman Alavarez’s memo mentions water conservation.

I would have expected some attention to wastewater treatment, seeing as San Diego is living on its final EPA waiver from having to provide secondary treatment at the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant. Are we planning ways to further avoid doing that treatment or are we preparing to shoulder the cost of doing it?

The Water Purification Demonstration Project (Indirect Potable Reuse) is another area this committee should be following closely. All aspects of water recycling in SanDiego could use an infusion of energy and support. Previously, Marti Emerald and Donna Frye were the committee’s strongest proponents for IPR and they’re now gone. Zapf and Alvarez have yet to weigh in on this.

Water conservation. The committee could provide more leadership in helping to change local residents’ attitude about water use. Too many people think conservation is needed only during crisis and that everyone should be able to “return to normal” now that reservoirs that supply us from northern California have benefited from winter rains and snow. Donna Frye’s effort to strengthen the city’s water use regulations last fall was unfortunately weakened after the committee was pressured by special interests, but her basic idea should be promoted.

The next NR&C meeting is scheduled for March 2 (although no agenda posted as of this writing). I’m glad that Mr. Alvarez took the initiative on getting a committee website up, and having seen him in action at the first committee meeting I’m staying optimistic that this committee will rise to the coming challenges.


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