Nov 19 2014
Does San Diego face a dry future? This was the headline of an article written by
Cheryl Clark 12/7/1984 in the San Diego Union Tribune. (See below) Water was taken for
granted. Toilets flushed, water flowed from the taps. A personal research
project began. The five year drought in the 1980s caused a lot of anxiety,
but not much was done by those charged with water policy. The result was a
series of stories in the local American Society of Plumbing Engineers
newsletter about how San Diego might look in the future. That eventually led
to a book published in September 2013 titled Water Shock, The Day Southern
California Went Dry.
Yesterday the San Diego City Council approved a way forward to begin the
process of getting the city closer to water independence. Twenty-eight years
after Ms. Clark penned her article, the answer to her question has now been
answered with the unanimous City Council vote for Pure Water San Diego.
We are again in a drought. No one knows how long it will last.
Five years like the last one? Ten years? The importance of the vote yesterday was the
culmination of hard work by all of the stakeholders. Remarkably, an often
divided city council voted unanimously for the resolution. They were on
solid ground. Environmental groups, developers, politicians of all stripes
for once were speaking with one voice to make this happen. Those on the
Water Reliability Coalition are largely responsible for this successful
outcome. The US Congress could take a lesson on how to look out for the
nations welfare by modeling the way the resolution was shepherded through
the minefields of special interests.
Is it a perfect solution? No. In politics perfect solutions are rare. If the
current drought does wear on for ten years, milestones will be reevaluated.
The old adage that the first step is the longest is ever true.
Water Shock is harshly critical of water policy planners and implementers
because over a quarter of a century had passed with little or no action on
the part of those responsible for our water security. And blogs on
www.water-shock.com continued that drumbeat. In fact in the mid-1990s the
city council rejected actions that would have advanced water reliability,
apparently having listened to the derogatory Toilet to Tap phrase.
But lest we get too comfortable with yesterday’s decision, we are much like
the westward bound wagon train of the 19th century. The inventory of
supplies has been checked and leaders named, the route has been planned by
scouts, and the oxen and horses are in the harness ready to hear Wagons Ho!
Ahead lay rivers to ford, mountains to conquer, broken axles and wheels,
nasty weather, and those who may not be as interested in seeing a successful
outcome. Translation: the work is just starting.
So Ms. Clark, you asked the right question. The answer was long in coming.
The next question is: Are the stakeholders up for the challenge of
overcoming the obstacles that will bring San Diego closer to water
independence? We’ll see.
PUBLICATION: San Diego Union, The (CA)
Is San Diego County facing a water crisis?
By Milt Burgess • Blog • 0 • Tags: augmentation, California Aqueduct, Colorado River, conservation, dry centuries, El Nino, La Nina, MWD, precipitation, purification, purple pipe, rainfall, residential water user, SDCWA, State Water Project, water rate hike, water rates, water Storage, wet centuries