Letter: Fast track recycled water project proposed to SAM


Posted by on Wed, July 30, 2008

At the July 28 meeting of the Sewer Authority MidCoastside (SAM), MWSD and GSD representatives, led by Scott Boyd, presented the basics of a new Fast Track Recycled Water Project.

The current project that is being pursued involves gathering all potential stakeholders, designing and building an extensive pipeline system, investigating the creation of an Irrigation District, and proving to many potential users that the water is safe to use in agricultural applications.
Needless to say, this could take many, many years, and, with annual warnings of potential droughts, the sooner this moves forward, the better.

Scott’s Fast Track proposal is to determine immediate willing clients, start with only half our recycled capacity, use an existing pipeline owned by the local golf course, and launch a pilot project. Several local farms could join this initial pilot by hooking up to this existing pipeline.
The benefits of this proposal are many:

1.  We actually start doing something we need to do.
2.  We can create our new marketable water product and test its contents.
3.  We can demonstrate its usability to additional clients.
4.  No significant costs are incurred for pipeline infrastructure.

The SAM Board authorized its staff to begin this investigation. The pilot project clients need to be contacted and the initial engineering designs need to be studied to determine if the full-sized project can be built in incremental stages.

We all hope this will accelerate this project and bring us additional resources to protect against future droughts.

Ric Lohman

Is the City of Half Moon Bay going to help pay for this beneficial project, or is the City once again going to shirk it’s financial responsiblity?

I’m referring to the recent case where the City of HMB refused to pay it’s fair share of another beneficial SAM project: the wet weather overflow tanks.

Thank you, Scott and Ric.  In 2005 I, along with more than 80% of Half Moon Bay voters, voted in favor of the City’s Advisory Measure for tertiary water treatment. I have been frustrated that the Half Moon Bay City Council has made no move to respond to the voters’ mandate.  It’s great that you, residents of Montara and Miramar respectively. are providing the push to get this much needed water treatment program started, even though it’s unlikely any of the water will be used outside of Half Moon Bay. You are to be commended for working for the Coastside as a whole community.

Sofia Freer

This is probably one of many needed projects that the community needs to do.  Is it the most pressing?  That’s debatable.

Of course if we didn’t squander millions and millions of dollars on lawyers over all these years,  this and many other projects would have been completed benefiting everyone.

It’s debateable that we should move ahead with recycled water on a fast track as we enter a drought cycle? Are you somehow immunized from news reports?

As to lawsuits, why don’t you tell us all about the millions of dollars of land use lawsuits against the Sewer Authority Midcoastside since that’s the governmental entity under discussion here.

My comment on spending millions on lawsuits was referring to the City that Kevin mentioned.  Instead of wasting all that money on lawyers for years,  many projects could have been done for the residents like parks, Boys & Girls Club, etc.

Go ask the residents where they would like to spend money on.  I don’t know if the sewer department jumps to the top of the list.  It certainly doesn’t get me excited.

The dual travesty of the Walker Decision and the ensuing Settlement are better discussed on a different thread.

Here, we’re discussing the Sewer Authority Midcoastside. It’s a Joint Powers Authority supported by sewer fees and assessments from three sewer districts, Half Moon Bay being one of them. If you are curious as to potential funding methodologies for tertiary treatment why don’t you pose some articulate questions?

The question was why doesn’t the City pay its share for this project.  My answer is maybe they spent it on lawyers.

Is this the best thing we can spend money on considering how many complaints there are here about the schools, police, parks, housing, etc?

Go poll the residents and I don’t think sewer is going to make the top 5 list.

As far as Beachwood goes,  we will never agree on this.  I see it as a failure of government and if AB 1991 isn’t implemented will also be a staggering cost that the community will have to pay for decades. 

And then there won’t be any surplus money for anything.

I second Sofia’s commendation of Scott and Ric for getting the ball rolling on recycled water. Northern California’s water future looks worse every time a new study comes out. The diminished snow pack is melting sooner, the Delta ecology is in collapse, the Colorado doesn’t reach the sea, the salmon fishing fleet is grounded, and farmers are concerned about their future. We’re well past the stage where “pipes” from elsewhere are a solution or that deeper wells equate to “production” of water.

If SAM can process enough tertiary water to take care of the nurseries’ and the golf course’s dry weather needs that would free up considerable quantities that CCWD could use to ease up restrictions on existing residents and make it more feasible to supply the 1,000 or more pre-sold permits that haven’t been hooked up to the system yet.

CCWD should say thank you, also.

Recycled water is a good thing that SAM can do, and without impact to current rate payers.  The expense is not an either/or proposition as suggested above.  SAM is going after several grants, and the proposed beneficiaries understand that this won’t be free.

What’s new with the fast track initiative is an effort to scale back and do a pilot, keeping costs and complicating factors way down so we can get it going quickly (well, as quickly as capital infrastructure projects can go; good things take time).

It’s worth mentioning that the entire community benefits when we improve the quality of our water treatment.  As science advances, it’s becoming increasingly clear that regulations will be tightening up.  Closer to home, our bodies and environment benefit when we do a better job of cleaning up our mess (we’re the ones turning water into wastewater, after all).

We all win when we find better uses for our cleaned-up wastewater.  Just pouring it into the ocean’s not the best we can do.

Most Coastsiders probably have no idea that the Ocean Colony golf course takes high quality water out of Pilarcitos Creek and then pumps it south to irrigate fairways and greens for affluent golfers.

In the meatime, CCWD (led by Larimer and Mickelsen) have doubled the water rates on local customers in the past five years to pay for expensive imported Hetch Hechy water, and to pay for a bloated and inefficient water district.

Recycled water will help satisfy the golf course’s insatiable thirst, thus freeing up other high quality water for beneficial uses.

Why isn’t CCWD participating in this project?