Jun 6 2015
Every day the San Diego print and broadcast media report on the historic drought in California. Innovative solutions, other than draconian conservation methods, are missing from the ubiquitous coverage of four years of below average rainfall, nearly non-existent snowpack and dire predictions about the diminishing Colorado River. Judging from all of this it seems all we have to do is save enough water, and the problem is solved…water will continue flowing from the taps and the toilets will continue flushing.
This kind of thinking is analogous to the family whose bank account is tapped out, the breadwinners are out of work, charities and food stocks have been exhausted…but if we just conserve all will be okay…they’ll continue to eat. Sound ridiculous? It is, but current group-think about water is strikingly similar!
Fortunately Cary Lowe and Gabrielle Schubert are not in that group. In their op-ed piece Sunday, May 31, 2015 titled “Water Tech Making A Splash” they shine much needed light on what tech-savvy San Diego could do. “This growing crisis presents an opportunity. As a region with serious water vulnerability, but also with extraordinary resources San Diego is well positioned to take the lead in water technology.”
The concluding paragraph of the article is says in part, “…..it is time to focus on making San Diego the national center of water technology innovation.” What a great concept!”
So here is an idea for the water wonks to examine. In the spirit of Gates, Packard and men and women yet to make their mark lie innovations yet unheard of that will cause people to exclaim, “Why didn’t I think of that”. Lowe and Schubert write, “Finally, the region’s university, along with major technology companies, should collaborate in developing a Water Innovation Center, to stimulate research and development in cutting-edge technologies.”
What if a competition was set up among the universities with the broad scope of achieving water independence for San Diego? This has been done in aviation, energy and other fields of endeavor. Why not water?
Desalination, indirect and direct recycling, purple pipe systems, grey water systems, storage and combinations of all of them are all current technology, in use for decades, but enmeshed in political battles that have the net effect of throwing cold water (sorry) on progress toward San Diego’s water independence.
Fresh unfettered minds will ask, “And so, why not?” Of course chief among the answers will be money and funding. But isn’t it strange that we can find over a billion dollars to fund a new Chargers stadium, or a few years ago, the $300 million to build two plants to partially treat sewage to be distributed in purple pipe? Mayor Faulconer used the phase, the Art of the Possible when discussing the Chargers.
Who will judge this competition? Any number of people who have no conflict of interest are possible. Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Board comes to mind. So does Pat Mulroy, the person who became the water czar in Las Vegas. How much will it cost? What is the venue? Who will lead it? All good questions, but there are answers. It all depends on the will of those who have the responsibility to ensure the economic health for San Diego, currently on the order of $200 billion per Lowe and Schubert’s op-ed.
And the outgrowth of this competition could be the National Center for Water Technology Innovation.
Think about it.
By Milt Burgess
By Milt Burgess • Blog • 0 • Tags: augmentation, California Aqueduct, Colorado River, conservation, Direct, 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