IROC endorses “in concept” proposed San Diego water policy
Posted by George J Janczyn on February 22, 2011
The Independent Rates Oversight Committee (IROC) met today with an agenda that took more time than was scheduled, even though meetings were recently lengthened to 2 1/2 hours. Several items had to be deferred for a future meeting as the time approached 3 hours.
San Diego City Councilmember Sherri Lightner presented a draft copy of her proposed “Comprehensive Policy for a Sustainable Water Supply in San Diego.”
Background: in Oct 2009 Lightner wrote a memo complaining about inconsistencies in San Diego’s water policy and lack of follow-through on expansion of purple pipe infrastructure for delivery of recycled water for irrigation and industrial use. There was apparently no further action taken on that memo, however, and it languished for most of the year.
Possibly frustrated, in July 2010 Lightner voted in opposition to the advanced IPR water treatment facility for the city’s Water Purification Demonstration Project (it passed 6-2 with DeMaio also voting against), citing the lack of a comprehensive water policy as a reason for her vote.
Lightner renewed her call for a new policy in memorandums submitted to the Natural Resources and Culture Committee in February 2011, and the draft submitted to IROC today is the first stab at that. I’ve only scanned it, but my initial impression is that it needs more focus and refinement. Read it and decide for yourself, though. A scanned copy is reproduced at the bottom of this post.
IROC voted to “support in concept” Lightner’s draft policy, although member Andrew Hollingworth expressed concern that such a policy not become a “back door to implementing growth control.” Also, chair Jim Peugh indicated that he prefers less emphasis on purple pipe and more on IPR (indirect potable reuse).
In other committee action, Barbara Lamb gave a presentation on the city’s Managed Competition Program which, despite being billed as not outsourcing and not privatization, could have that effect if a city department loses a function to an outside contractor and “goes away.” Mr. Hollingworth observed that he has trouble seeing how the Public Utilities Department can compete on projects when PUD pension costs are double those in the private sector. PUD Assistant Director Alex Ruiz countered that he’s not so sure the difference is that extreme and that the department also has other major strengths with which to compete.
There was a brief update on auditing to be done on the uses of PUD funds associated with rate increases and other financials.
The Harbor Drive Trunk Sewer project funding from DRES reserves was approved. Hollingworth voted no because he thought it an inappropriate use of DRES funds, while the prevailing sentiment was that it was a cash-flow adjustment for a critical project required by an EPA consent decree, not a raid of reserves for petty reasons.
Regarding the sale of PUD land to the Carlton Oaks Country Club, chair Peugh expressed concern about giving up a regular source of income from that property in exchange for a one-time sale payment. City staff are convinced, though, by the country club’s claim that a sale is the only way it can afford to maintain operations there. In other words, without a sale, the club will cease operations and income will stop and there are no other potential users or buyers.
Here’s Lightner’s draft policy: