In case you did not see this summary (by Anne Seeley) of Santa Rosa’s BPU UWRP meeting on Tuesday, .. and there was an interesting follow up that I’ve included below.
The Santa Rosa City Council study session today was billed as an update on the Urban Reuse alternative of the Incremental Recycled Water Program (IRWP).
Dr. David Smith, a consultant, presented information about the wastewater side of the equation. He identified 2200 Million gallons per year additional need for reclaimed water disposal by 2020.
Virginia Porter described the water supply side, saying that if no additional water supply comes on line by 2017, the calculated “mid-point supply will run out.” Dick Dowd later said that the option of using Lake Sonoma water had been found to be incredibly expensive.
There were lots of graphs and details, but what I want to tell you about is BPU Chairman Dick Dowd’s declaration. He said that he has reached the understanding that with the conversion of the factors of increased water supply needs and increased wastewater production, the only answer he sees is the successful implementation of an urban reuse program. And, he said, we’d better get busy now in investing in the infrastructure.
Each quadrant of the city is projected to cost about $110 million, in order to build just the main trunks to supply irrigation water. Some policy assumptions are: existing users may or may not connect with the new lines, but new construction will be required to; the target is non-single family irrigation water use; demand (hook-up) fees should be equal to potable water demand fees; and the user rate structure should reflect the value of the resource.
Chairman Dowd made the point that we have partners in the wastewater system in whom we must create cooperation and a level playing field. I suggested that Rohnert Park would benefit from using some of the formerly identified storage sites east and south of that city to serve their program. He said they’d be looking everywhere for storage.
Brenda Adelman countered some of the assumptions made about future wastewater production, observing that flows in this very rainy year didn’t match future assumptions about wet weather years. She recommended a combination of increased conservation, a much accelerated I&I program (replacement of sewer pipes to prevent inflow and infiltration), and increased flow to the Geysers. Dowd countered that the BPU had concluded that the I&I program would cost $600 million and would take 20 years. We’re now spending $7 to $10 million a year for replacement.
The EIR process has been announced for the Urban Reuse Project.
And a note from a recent PD article that followed:
Ben Stone, coordinator of the county’s Economic Development Board, said his office would convene a private industry task force to translate the meaning of “sustainability” for individual businesses.
“It challenges our assumptions that there will always be water when we turn on the tap,” Stone said. “Our local economy has been on cruising speed for 20 years, and yet the work force is changing, our water supply is running out and our landfill is so full we are hauling out our garbage.”
Stone said the task force should consider such scenarios as the wine industry’s being affected by ground-water depletion, labor shortages and shifting consumer tastes.
“This should be a point of reflection on our major assumptions,” Stone said. “If they reach the point of rationing water, how exactly are the businesspeople going to react before they hit the red panic button?”