Friday, April 24, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

We do have options; there are better alternatives

By
From page A15 | January 27, 2013 |

By Stan Forbes, Les Portello, Paul Brady and Michael J. Harrington

Initially, Davis was involved in planning a joint surface water project that included the city of Davis, UC Davis and West Sacramento, with a pipeline running alongside Interstate 80 from the West Sacramento intake on the Sacramento River to Davis. Sometime around 2002, Davis city staff informed the City Council that West Sacramento had withdrawn from the deal, and a new project was planned involving Woodland, Davis and UCD.

Somewhat disturbingly, we now have learned that West Sacramento had not withdrawn from the project — in fact, Davis city staff had terminated the discussions with West Sacramento. UCD eventually decided that it did not want to pay for the new Woodland-Davis project, leaving the two cities to negotiate cost-sharing.

Shortly thereafter, the city was informed that a new wastewater treatment plant was needed to deal with the nitrates. Hence, Davis faces the overwhelming burden of paying simultaneously for two projects: a new wastewater treatment plant and a surface water project. This will triple our water rates and result in water/sewer/garbage rates among the highest in the state.

There are alternatives, but the massive amount of misinformation about the project has obscured the options. We are going to try to dispel some of that misinformation and set the record straight. It is critically important that citizens have accurate information so they can make their own evaluation of the risks — both in terms of water and the costs and the benefits of this project at this time.

* Davis does not need a surface water project to meet city wastewater discharge requirements. By managing our groundwater appropriately, we can meet our discharge requirements at relatively minimal cost.

* Davis water meets all state drinking water requirements.

* Davis will not lose our water rights if we don’t proceed with the surface water project. Our water rights are 40-year rights and they are secure. No city under similar circumstances has lost its water rights for not proceeding with a surface water project.

* Davis water quality is not deteriorating; it is, in fact, improving. Water from deeper in the aquifer has an undetectable level of selenium and is reasonably soft; in fact, it overlaps with river water in terms of its hardness. Since two new wells are already planned and the city will be re-piping some water for municipal landscaping needs directly from the intermediate aquifer, our drinking water soon will be drawn entirely from the deeper, high-quality levels. There is no credible evidence that we have a supply problem.

* The surface water project will not affect the cost of the wastewater treatment plant one way or the other. It has been claimed that the wastewater treatment plant will cost more without the surface water project, but that claim is not correct. Given these facts and the extraordinary cost of the combined wastewater and surface water projects, and the associated extraordinary total municipal utilities bill that Davis ratepayers, both residential and commercial, will have to bear, the city should consider either phasing in the wastewater treatment plant and the surface water project, or finding a more cost-efficient surface water project.

State regulations will not allow us to postpone the wastewater treatment plant, because the nitrogen ammonia limits are non-negotiable and cannot be postponed.

But the surface water project can be delayed because our drinking water is in compliance and the groundwater supply and quality are good. Remember that river water supply is not particularly secure because as snowpack decreases, our junior surface water rights will be curtailed in the resulting long, dry season.

That said, we do not advocate for postponing the surface water project. We advocate for accepting the offer West Sacramento has made to allow us perpetual use of 12 million gallons of surface water a day — the same amount that is planned by the Woodland/Davis project. Yes, West Sacramento has offered us a permanent right to the same amount of water offered by the Woodland/Davis project!

Joining with West Sacramento is the project that Davis initially planned, and it is the project that makes the most sense. The argument that Davis will be “just a customer” of West Sacramento is a red herring. A right in perpetuity is more than sufficient.

Joining with West Sacramento would cost less than the Woodland-Davis project, even given the very conservative figures provided for the West Sacramento option, which included high contingencies compared with what seem to be an unrealistically low estimate for the Woodland-Davis project. The cost advantage will end up being huge with West Sacramento.

West Sacramento has invited Woodland to participate as well. West Sacramento believes that the long-term savings of a regional project will be very large, and we agree. Woodland can reject or accept this offer. We think, however, that Woodland eventually will come to understand that this is a win-win-win solution, but if it doesn’t, it is still definitely in Davis’ interest to join West Sacramento.

It makes no sense for two towns to each build a separate, redundant water supply system. This is too expensive. Furthermore, it is environmentally irresponsible and will have far-reaching, unanticipated consequences.

Please remember that half of Davis households earn under $60,000. The cost of the Woodland-Davis project is unfair to the low-, moderate- and fixed-income Davis citizens who can’t afford it, especially senior citizens facing rising living expenses and medical costs. Extra costs are an unwelcome burden, especially for those struggling to feed, clothe and educate their children. Excessive and unnecessary debt for the Woodland-Davis project is the wrong choice.

Let your voice be heard. There are options. Vote no on Measure I. Visit the No on Measure I website at www.noonmeasurei.net or call 530-756-6856

— Stan Forbes is a former member of the Davis City Council and Davis Board of Education, Les Portello is a farmer and senior citizen advocate, Paul Brady is a retired UCD professor of physics and Michael J. Harrington is a former Davis City Council member and co-chair of the 2011 water referendum. Portello, Brady and Harrington are members of the Citizens for Clean, Reliable, Affordable Water campaign. 

Comments

comments

Special to The Enterprise

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Water and power have a troubling interdependency

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    New design submitted for conference center

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Bob Dunning: Fairness is an afterthought for them

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Los Angeles march to commemorate Armenian killings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Hostage deaths a reminder of risk of ‘deadly mistakes’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Walkers head out three times weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

     
    Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Beginning tai chi classes start May 5

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    College Night set April 30 at DHS

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Tour of co-ops precedes Sacramento conference

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    School board hears report on health services

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A5

    Mamajowali will perform at benefit house concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

     
    Explorit: Celebrate International Astronomy Day

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Learn basics of composting in Woodland

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Take a peek at region’s past at Tremont Mite Society’s social

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    BeerFest expands to include cider

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Winkler Dinner raises funds for enology, viticulture activities

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Raptor Center welcomes visitors at May 2 open house

    By Trina Wood | From Page: A8 | Gallery

     
    Mapping where human action is causing earthquakes

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A9

    Hummingbird health: Appreciating the little things

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    .

    Forum

    Drink is a tasteless insult

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

    The fight for gender pay equity

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

     
    Thanks for supporting the arts

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Bike Swap another success

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    It’s a depressing beat

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Sports

    Lehner talks about the UCD student-athlete experience

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Reeling Blue Devils stop skid against Sheldon

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie Spring Game environment will up the gridiron fun factor

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Rare DHS track loss still full of highlights

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    DYSA roundup: Lester, Osborne lead Storm over Dixon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Lady Demons’ fundraiser a smash hit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Pro baseball roundup: River Cats lose their fourth straight

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B12

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

     
    ‘Ex Machina': The perils of playing God

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Ceramicist works will be featured at The Artery

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    Chamber expands Korean sister-city opportunities

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Car Care: Tips for buying your first ATV

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

    Subaru goes rear-wheel drive with sporty BRZ coupe

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B7 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Whitney Joy Engler

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Valente Forrest Dolcini

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, April 24, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B5