“Opponents of the $115 million desalination plant proposed in Santa Cruz gathered on West Cliff Drive on Saturday to gather signatures to place a measure on the ballot that would change the city’s charter to require a future vote on the plant.
“The group needs to collect the signatures of 5,000 people registered to vote in Santa Cruz to get on the November ballot. Organizers say they’re about halfway there. The City Council passed an ordinance requiring such a vote in March.
“Four council seats are up in November,” said Rick Longinotti. “We want to make sure the right to vote can’t be revoked with future city councils.”
“City officials have been planning to team with the Soquel Creek Water District to build a desalination plant in Santa Cruz since 2004.
“They’ve since spent several million dollars on studies, designs and the running of a pilot plant.
“Water Department officials say the permanent plant would be used to supplement the water supply during drought years. In nondrought years, Soquel Creek would have access to the desalinated water as an alternative to its underground aquifer supply.
“Saturday’s gathering included five former mayors and former county Supervisor Gary Patton.
“The anti-desalination group of more than 50 folks took a walk through the Westside streets where the proposed desalination pipelines would run.
“Their rally took place on the bluff above Mitchell’s Cove. The spot was chosen because that’s where the brine-filled wastewater would be returned to the ocean.
“Former Mayor Tim Fitzmaurice, who was on the council when the idea was initiated in 2004, said protecting the environment from possible damage by the plant would be his foremost concern when deciding how to vote.”
Read more: Mercury news