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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Looking Yet Again At the Water Issue

I spent quite a deal of time over the past two weeks looking into the water issue, I still believe myself to be woefully uninformed on this issue and thus at a severe disadvantage when going up against experts on the subject.

Yet I read last night's article in the Davis Enterprise with some alarm because tough questions are never really asked.
"The city plans to partner with UC Davis and Woodland to draw water from the Sacramento River and use it as the water supply much of the year.

This would rescue the underground aquifers from which the two cities and university draw water today, project designers say, since the aquifer may not produce enough water to meet all of that demand in the future."
My conversations with people have suggested that the current mid-level aquifer supplies us with something on the order of 15,000 acre-feet per year which is enough to supply a town the size of Davis with enough water for a year.

Furthermore, according to those same experts this aquifer has never failed to replenish. Do the city planners have studies suggesting that it will not?

According to city water specialist Jacques DeBra: "The underground water supply beneath the cities and university may not be reliable enough to meet future demand"

Again one must ask based on what kind of growth projections?

Councilmember Don Saylor is quoted as saying, "This is not a political issue. ... This is a core service issue."

Of course this is a political issue. Politics is means by which scarce resources are allocated. Water is a scarce resource and this is a political question of determining how to best supply Davis residents with the best and most reliable supply without putting a huge burden on the average family who would have to spend a tremendous amount of money per year for this project.

It seems to me that this discussion needs to come within the framework of a very frank discussion of future growth and also a very sincere effort to figure out if we spend the construction costs if there will even end up a supply n the future given the realities that the precipitation pattern may quickly change and that Los Angeles may end up losing their chief supplier of water and have the political muscle to take a large share of Northern California water. We could end up spending a tremendous amount of time and money on this project and end up worse off than we currently are now.

If we are concerned about the future viability of the mid-level aquifer, perhaps we should explore the idea that Mayor Greenwald suggests and see if deep aquifers could prove a viable means of supplementing our current supplies.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting