I’ve tried to follow the surface water issue over the last year, reading The Davis Enterprise articles, op-eds pieces and letters. After figuring out that the new project would cost me about $1,000 a year more, I tried to find out why this large project was necessary. Unfortunately, this has become a classic game of Whack-A-Mole.
First, it was necessary to meet upcoming water quality regulations. After the water quality agency said these standards may not be in effect for 10 to 15 years, this justification dropped off the chart, only to reappear in the past two weeks. Next was the non-sustainability of our well water supply. The complete support for this reason seemed to be that one or more water experts said they didn’t think it was “a good idea” in the long term. No data was cited.
Then the justification moved to better-tasting and softer water. Again, no actual data was provided and no mention made of West Sacramento’s problems with water taste due to rice herbicides in the river. In order to actually reduce the salt in wastewater, Davis would be forced to require removal of existing water softeners, since they continue to use salt regardless of incoming water hardness. No specific numbers have been provided for the level of contaminants in current drinking or wastewater, in the Sacramento River supply water, or the proposed regulatory limits for these contaminants.
Next, the justification moved to the low cost of borrowing money and of construction at this time. Basically, this is like buying something now because it is such a good deal, whether you need it or not. Some people have called this the “Costco effect.”
Maybe supplementing our well water supply with surface water is a good idea. But you cannot tell that from the dozen half-baked justifications that have been offered. There is no way to know that our extra millions of dollars in costs will have any of the good effects promised by the proponents of Measure I. Let’s vote no on this measure and see if any better justifications emerge the next time around.