“SANTA CRUZ — Desalination skeptics packed a Quaker Meetinghouse on Thursday to hear a critical evaluation of an environmental report for a $129 million facility that would serve 135,000 water ratepayers.
More than 100 people listened as Rick Longinotti, a founder of Santa Cruz Desal Alternatives, questioned a draft environmental impact report’s conclusions about water supply shortages, alternatives and the impact on growth and the environment. He argued the city has made a political decision to allow for water use to grow at UC Santa Cruz and within the city’s limits from 3.2 billion gallons in annual demand now to 3.8 billion by 2030, figures published in the report, rather than hold demand down.
The former electrician turned marriage counselor and anti-desal crusader said the city needs to wean golf courses off drinking water, share excess winter flow with neighboring districts, become more aggressive with conservation measures and better manage the Loch Lomond Reservoir rather than pursue a costly desalting facility. He called again for a formal water-neutral development policy similar to one in place within the city’s desalination partner, the Soquel Creek Water District, which requires developers to directly offset their new use through conservation rather than pay fees that may not all go toward conservation.”
Read more: Santa Cruz Sentinel