I read the op-eds on both sides of Measure I, and to me, the single most central question was never answered by the proponents: Why can’t we supplement our Davis water with water from the deep aquifer the university has been accessing for all its water needs, for years?
The university water has shown no signs of deterioration. No one knows the recharge rate of the deep Davis aquifer, so for all we know, this will supply us with water long into the future. Four deep aquifer wells are already coming online in Davis. Drilling deep aquifer wells costs on the order of a few million dollars each (four are all we need, a half-dozen would be more than enough), vs. $120 million to $200 million and a 20-mile pipeline for river water followed by a tripling of our water rates to pay for it.
Maybe there are uncertainties about the deep aquifer, but given global warming, it’s obvious that the long-term uncertainties about the future availability of the river water must be just as great. Finally, our water meets all regulations at this time, and we have every reason to expect that water from the deep aquifer would be cleaner than river water, and would meet all standards subject to some relatively trivial processing like the university already does. In any event, we could hold our river rights as an insurance policy until at least 2040, and reassess our situation after we explore the availability of water in the deep aquifer underneath us.
If you don’t get clear and definitive reasons why tapping into the deep aquifer under Davis is not the best, most cost-effective bet for solving our water problems, then you should vote no on Measure I. When the proponents of a multimillion-dollar project cannot express definitively why the cheaper and obviously better route isn’t being tried first, you have to suspect ignorant enthusiasm, vested interests, politics and groupthink.
Oh, and you might not trust vague answers to this question from groups already planning to not help pay for it!