A comment posted on the Review under the moniker “Perspective” claims a 2017 agreement to recycle water was scuttled when Half Moon Bay decided to sue the other two members of the Sewer Authority Mid-coastside. The suit is a disagreement over who should pay for a forced sewer main. Perspective goes on to claim that Granada Community Service District and Montara Water and Sanitary District customers would receive no benefit from recycling. Therein lies several of the deeply flawed arguments that have prevented moving forward on water recycling.
The inference that only a golf course in the city would benefit from recycled water is incorrect. Today SAM discharges over 500 million gallons of treated wastewater into the ocean annually. This is a quantity of water equivalent to the Coastside County Water District’s guaranteed freshwater reserve, equivalent to almost the total amount of water CCWD sells in the average non-drought year.
CCWD’s contractual guaranteed water reserve will be reduced in the future due to the increasing frequency of droughts. Climate change has reduced environmental sources of freshwater across California. This reduction includes water taken from wells and streams, the only local freshwater sources for both water districts in our community.
A major reallocation of California’s freshwater resources, motivated by climate change and environmental and commercial concerns, will reduce the availability of water from the Sierras for domestic use. Reallocation will impact urban use throughout the state. CCWD receives a substantial amount of the water it sells from this non-local source.
Recycled wastewater could completely mitigate this problem making our entire community drought tolerant for the foreseeable future. CCWD services the water needs for 19,000 people living here, and MWSD services the remaining 6,000. Both water districts would benefit from recycling to augment our community’s guaranteed water reserve.
Since SAM was created in 1976 there have been disputes among its member agencies over who is responsible for the maintenance, replacement or upgrading of system components such as the disputed intertie. Pointing the finger of blame before, during and after issues like this find their way into court leaves urgent problems unsolved. Instead of picking up the pieces and repairing or replacing the damage, we have finger-pointing blame and not solutions we need.
The Half Moon Bay City Council recognizes the urgent need to move forward on recycling. It signaled this in a letter sent to CCWD and posted in CCWD’s Sept. 13 agenda. CCWD is one of two agencies that by law can distribute potable freshwater to people living here. The other is MWSD. If there is not enough water to meet residential demand during extended droughts, residences without water would be declared uninhabitable and the people living there would be forced to move. The property value would be nil. This is a real possibility if we do nothing to mitigate this clear and present problem.
The Blame Game is not a solution.
Jim Larimer lives in Miramar and is a former member of the CCWD board of directors.