As Petaluma progressed with its new General Plan 2025, it came up short of water, just like the county. Petaluma staff and City Council have now concluded that “water supply from SCWA alone is not sufficient to meet current and anticipated demand” necessary for Petaluma’s growth as predicted for the upcoming new Petaluma General Plan (Staff report, 3/31/06), with demand exceeding supply by 2011. As a result, it would have to enact a building moratorium if it couldn’t find an alternative.
Instead of complaining or instituting a moratorium, or increasing demands for Eel or Russian River water, or waiting for SCWA to resolve water supply and transmission and fishery issues, or relying significantly on local groundwater, the City Council and staff worked out a new proposal for aggressive conservation and water efficiencies. This includes extensive reuse of recycled treated wastewater for irrigation of parks, playfields and golf courses in lieu of using potable water from SCWA’s system. New development would pay most costs for supplying the “new” water. Existing ratepayers would not be burdened with these costs.
Petaluma provides a very good example as a roadmap for all the county’s water suppliers to adopt as well. See the complete city staff report “Draft General Plan 2025 Preliminary Water Supply Analysis” If one city can do this, then all of them can.
In this change of thinking, there is indeed a much brighter future for the Eel River.