Frankly, I don’t see this as a controversial decision. I’ve read the arguments pro and con. I think the desal plant is a good idea. Let me explain why.
I lived on an island in the Caribbean (St. Thomas) for eight years that was dependent on desalinated water. The resort where I worked made its own water. From my point of view it worked pretty well.
Given that I was management at the resort complex, I’ve seen the reverse osmosis process up close–it was a critical part of our operations. The generator that protected the “plant” from frequent power outages was the most well-maintained and scrutinized piece of equipment on the property. And I can attest that the reverse osmosis process isn’t pretty or wonderful for the environment.
The water on St. Thomas was expensive; conservation and recycling were part of life. We had cisterns to collect rainwater. The island’s golf course charged an arm and a leg to for “greens” fees, even though the grass was brown much of the year. Toilet flushing was ruled by the dictum: “If it’s brown, send it down. If it’s yellow let it mellow.”
From what I could tell, after thirty years of trying to build a desalination plant, after clearing all the (good and necessary) environmental hoops in California, the best argument against building a desal facility came down to the claim that the water coming out of Carlsbad would be expensive.
Given that the government entities involved here weren’t interested or able to build a plant on their own, it stands to reason that a private outfit will be making a profit off the deal. Nobody knows how much profit, and that is upsetting to a lot of folks. That’s still no reason not to do this.
There are folks that say there are plenty of other ways we can get water, which may or may not be cheaper. I say great. Let’s do those things, too.
Because if you believe that we’ve got some serious climate change coming down the road, then you have to understand that the “natural” sources of water San Diego draws from are not a safe bet.
There are folks that say the amount of energy consumed by the desal process will actually be contributing to climate change. And they’re probably right. But building or not building a reverse osmosis facility isn’t really going to change the usage of fossil fuel energy.
A better use for our energy at this point would be to go after the subsidies for the dirty fuel industry so that the development of renewable sources of energy becomes competitive. What we currently pay for gas and oil has almost no relationship to what its production or ultimate costs are.
My point here is that cheap water (or cheap gas, for that matter) is no bargain. If we want to be better stewards for our planet, it’s time we started paying the true cost of using up our resources.
And while we’re at it, it’s time that we started paying the true cost of labor. Minimum wage employees at Wally’s World cost taxpayer monies. It’s a subsidy for yet another industry. If we expect people to pay the high costs of unsubsidized natural resources & energy, they’ll have to be paid accordingly.
I know that this post will anger and/or upset many of my associates. I know, I know, that I’m taking the same stand (on the desal plant) that the minions of Manchesterland are promulgating. I want to make it clear—very clear—that most of the other folks that write for the San Diego Free Press don’t share my view.
I’ll admit I’ve given short shift to in terms of all the weighty tomes that have been published about the value or not of desalination. I actually did read a lot on the topic leading up to today. A lot of coffee beans died to keep me awake during that process.
Ultimately I felt that a link-filled essay full of arguments pro and con wouldn’t be worthwhile in this instance. The decision has been made. Thirty years of hearings, litigation and investigations are over.
I’m going with my gut on this one. I say build the desal plant.
As always, the comment section is open for you to weigh in on this topic. Fire away.
Petition Aims to Stop Murdoch Take Over of the LA Times
The Federal Communication Commission is considering, once again, rules that would further relax standards relating to media ownership in specific markets. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has circulated a media ownership order that loosens the newspaper/TV cross-ownership ban in the top 20 markets and gets rid of the ban on radio/TV cross-ownership and radio/newspaper cross-ownership.
Realizing that media mogul Rupert Murdoch would be an immediate beneficiary of any rule change, as he is reportedly interested in buying the assets of the Tribune Corporation (which includes the LA Times), the folks at FreePress.Net (not affiliated with SDFreePress, but we like what they’re doing) are mounting a petition and public awareness drive to oppose any action of this sort by the FCC.
The Big Picture on Climate Change Comes to San Diego
Don Bauder’s got a piece up over at the SDReader talking about studies relating to the probable impact of higher temperatures and rising ocean levels on San Diego. Cited are studies from Dan Cayan of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the San Diego Foundation.
The predictions are pretty grim. From the SD Foundation’s “San Diego’s Changing Climate: A Regional Wake-Up Call”:
“In 2050, if current trends continue, San Diego’s climate will be hotter and drier. Sea level will be 12–18 inches higher. We will face a severe water shortage. Wildfires will be more frequent and intense. Public health will be at risk, especially among our elderly and children. Native plant and animal species will be lost forever. We will not be able to meet our energy needs.”
The article goes on to talk about what local governmental agencies are planning in response to these challenges. The good news is that everybody’s working on a plan. The bad news is that it ain’t enough. What we see is more lip service than hard political choices.
One big game changer in this equation could be the incoming Filner administration. From the Reader article:
Although mayor-elect Bob Filner is more attuned to climate change than recent predecessors, many San Diegans worry that significant changes may not take place until nature mandates them. A group called SanDiego350.org is battling for more aggressive climate-change moves. “[The City’s plan] is not strong enough, does not meet its goals,” says Emily Wier, spokesperson for SanDiego350. “We are nowhere near on track for 2035 and 2050 goals. CMAP takes the low-hanging fruit — increasing bike lanes, encouraging people to carpool, the City purchasing more electric vehicles. But it does nothing to reduce our use of fossil fuels.”
To all of the misty-eyed tributes that are going own about the legacies of the Sanders era in San Diego I would like to add my own prediction: He’ll ultimately be more remembered for what he didn’t do or swept under the carpet.
Chart of the Day:
Conspiracy of the day…
Aaah, Republicans. Just when you think things couldn’t get any weirder, along comes another elected official willing to prove that literacy and logic are not a pre-requisite for elected office. Today’s winner, courtesy of Talking Points Memo, is Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who took to Frank Gaffney’s anti-Muslim radio show to rant about the current administration’s Middle East policies. Money quote:
What was all the rage a year and a half ago? It was the Arab Spring and how wonderful it was! This administration really embraced blowing out Mubarak – yes, do it up by all means – getting rid of Qaddafi, it wasn’t enough to send verbal accolades, this administration sent planes and bombs and support to oust Qaddafi so that al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood could take over Libya.
Hotel Employees Win Big Over HEI Hotels and Resorts
Eighteen present and former employees of the Long Beach Hilton Hotel reached a $130,000 settlement with HEI Hotels and Resorts over denial of meal and rest breaks required by California law.
In hearings before the California Labor Commissioner, workers described facing direct pressure from supervisors to work through meals and to skip rest breaks to keep up with increasingly heavy workloads. Some employees from the hotel’s kitchen, restaurant, room service, banquet services and housekeeping gave testimony, attesting to injuries due to the unremitting nature of their work.
The workers were supported in their efforts by UNITE HERE Local 11 and represented by the UC Irvine School of Law-Immigrant Rights Clinic and Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center.
Hotel employees in the San Diego area have also staged protests and are filing legal actions regarding their treatment by management at HEI Hotels and Resorts.
On This Day: In 1782 the United States and Britain signed preliminary peace articles in Paris, ending the Revolutionary War. In 1940 Lucille Ball and Cuban musician Desi Arnaz were married. In 1968 Sly & The Family Stone’s “Everyday People” was released.
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Fallbrook (102 S. Main, at Alvarado) 10 am – 2 pm, Imperial Beach (Seacoast Dr. at Pier Plaza) 2 – 7:30 pm, Kearny Mesa (No. Island Credit Union pkg lot 5898 Copley) 10:30 am – 1:30 pm, La Mesa Village (Corner of Spring St. and University) 2 – 6 pm, Rancho Bernardo (Bernardo Winery parking lot 13330 Paseo del Verano Norte) 9 am – noon, Southeast San Diego(4981 Market St. West of Euclid Ave. Trolley Station) 2 – 6 pm
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