Apr 24 2014
What does the recycling of water have in common with the news about the
tragic loss of lives with the sinking of the South Korean ferry? No, it’s
not that both are connected with water.
In the case of the ferry, hundreds of lives depended upon the judgment and
decision-making of the very few who were in command when the ferry started
taking on water. So it is with those in our community who are charged with
the responsibility of providing a reliable water supply.
But we are doing our job, they may say. “Look at the storage capacity we
have built. Despite the drought, we are going to be okay for the 2014-2015
water year.and look we have moved to a stage one water alert where the
declaration requires residents limit outdoor watering to three days a week,
restrict home-based vehicle washing to before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
through May and before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. from June through October,
use recycled or non-potable in construction, and turn off outdoor irrigation
when it rains. The declaration also calls for limiting construction water
use to only that required by regulations.”
Yawn! Big deal! I am certain this might save, say five to ten percent of
the water consumption coming into San Diego County. And where is that water
coming from? Hundreds of miles away, subject to natural disasters and
capricious courts (and MWD).
Precious time went by as the South Korean ferry captain and his crew
dithered about what to do, issuing instructions to stay inside.
Meanwhile San Diego farmers continue to pour on the water, and by the way,
complaining about its high cost. Overall, irrigation uses nearly 80% of the
water consumed in Southern California.
The dithering water policy officials continue to talk, talk, and talk about
recycling the wastewater that is unceremoniously dumped into the Pacific
Ocean on a daily basis…over two hundred million gallons per day, every day;
three hundred and sixty five days a year. Precious time is going by. This
“ferry” is listing, and what is the “captain and his crew” saying? They are
telling us we need to wash our cars at a certain time of the day!
The drought goes on, with the slim hope the El Nino will save us next year.
Isn’t this like the South Korean captain waiting for rescue vessels to come
to their aid as the ferry continued to slide into the water?
As this period in San Diego’s history is reviewed in years to come, the
hindsight will be clear. No one knows how extensive the drought will be.
Experts say we are now in a dry century that followed a wet century. Do we
have to wait until the toilets don’t flush and the taps are dry? Then it’s
too late. And as the captain and his crew left the sinking ferry early, so
will those officials be long gone who can act now to design and implement
The command to abandon ship should have been given by the ferry captain
immediately. We are waiting for the command to move quickly to recycle San
Diego’s water to make it potable. Will it come?