SFPUC Vote Tomorrow Will Define Future of Recycled Water Projects

Tomorrow, Tuesday September 28, 1:30pm at San Francisco City Hall room 400, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission will vote to authorize the SFPUC General Manager to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with Phil Ginsburg and the Recreation and Parks Department to deliver recycled water to Sharp Park Golf Course. The vote is item 14 on the agenda. You can find out more here.

The Wild Equity Institute supports using recycled water for non-potable uses. In general, recycled water is a great substitute for drinking water, when the substitution is appropriate.

But this vote is pre-mature. As currently proposed, 75% of the recycled water from this project is slated to quench Sharp Park Golf Course: even though the golf course is unlikely to exist in the near future as sea level rises and environmental and economic constraints force the City to provide recreational golf elsewhere. This is why people from across the political spectrum, from San Francisco’s Green Party to Republican Senator John McCain, have all opposed investing millions of dollars in a water project for a marginal golf course.

So why the rush to vote? A document request by the Wild Equity Institute has found part of the answer: to beat a deadline for federal stimulus dollars for the project. With federal stimulus money on the line, the PUC and its partners seem to be spending money and making agreements first, and thinking about the consequences later.

But there are better alternatives: the PUC can design the recycled water project and sign water delivery agreements that increase the financial stability for recycled water delivery in the long run. By providing delivery options to other users on the San Francisco Peninsula, the PUC can diversify its customer base and increased the probability that this project serves as a positive model for other recycled water projects to come.

Please attend the hearing and tell the SFPUC that they should not authorize negotiations at this time. Instead, the PUC should ameliorate the risks associated with this project through construction plans and water delivery agreements that will give the PUC the flexibility to deliver this recycled water to other users.

If you can’t make it, send your comments to mhoush@sfwater.org.

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