Commentary: Davis City Council Water Workshop

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Last night the Davis City Council spent probably six hours listening to and discussing water–water supply and water treatment.

The new water plan is in its early stages, there was a permit requested in 1994 and the new water project would not be completed until around 2015.

One interesting thing about the meeting last night is when I walked into council chambers and there were about 20 or so 50-year old, white men, in nice suits. And I suddenly realized how big and powerful this industry really is. Then I spent several hours listening to engineers and consultants and lawyers talk about the complex issue of water and water rights and delivery.

Part of the problem as a layman with no expertise at all in this field, is deciding whether to accept what they said at face-value or to figure out ways to question them.

The bottom line presented last night is this–there are concerns about the future viability of the city water supply and also the quality of both the supply and the wastewater. There are time sensitive issues that require diligent attention to the time line in the application process in order to keep the city of Davis’ place in line and the feeling of the presenters was that we had better stake our claims now or we will get shortchanged in the future.

The proposal right now is to get permission to do some sort of bypass to siphon off water from the Sacramento River and divert it to a pumping station that would be a shared facility with the City of Woodland and UC Davis.

The cost projections for this are prohibitive in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Basically water users would on average see the price they pay double from this year ($37 per month) to 2015 ($70 per month). That’s not quite as bad as it seems, the average projected inflation would be about 3.5% and this is about 7% increase annually. That is no doubt inflation, but it means that there would be about a $17 increase based on inflation alone even without this improvement.

The most interesting exchange of the evening was during Mayor Sue Greenwald’s period to question the staff on these issues. The Mayor was trying to get some answers to her questions without the editorializing by staff who clearly strongly favored the given proposal. This became frustrating for the Mayor who was for instance trying to ascertain the quality of the water from deep wells without getting the staff’s viewpoint that using such wells was not viable in their opinion.

Her pressing on this matter caused both Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Asmundson and City Councilmember Don Saylor to complain. The Mayor probably could have explained a bit better why she was pushing in this matter, but by the end it became clear that her point was trying to look at alternatives rather than simply accepting this report at face value. Her colleagues need to allow her that privilege even if it means that she has to push staff who were clearly trying to keep the conversation steered in their own direction and towards their own recommendations.

The Mayor sent me this statement:

“Staff expressed great concern with the risk of construction costs outstripping the cost of inflation (that is a more accurate way to phrase the perennial “prices will keep rising” fear). But there are also risks with doing a huge capital project sooner rather than later, especially when regulation changes and climate changes make the future so unpredictable. The longer we wait, the more information we have and the more technology improves. And, in fact, we did suffer from building our current wastewater treatment facility prematurely. Had we waited, we would have known more about current regulations, and we would have built a facility that would have required a relatively inexpensive upgrade, rather than the 150 million dollar project we face today.

I favor doing an equal weight feasibility study that seriously looks at the possibility of postponing the surface water project until much of the wastewater facility is paid off. It will take about thirty years to pay off each project. If we can provide safe water from the deep aquifer for another 15 or 20 years, we can phase these projects so that we won’t be forced to put the entire burden of both of these massive projects on today’s rate payers, and particularly on today’s seniors on fixed incomes.”

The general tone expressed by the water experts is that water is going to be an increasingly scare commodity in the future and that we have to grab our share first. However, that seems somewhat problematic in terms of how future events are likely to play out.

No one asked the question I had which was how likely it would be that this would be a viable source of water in the future. It seems to me that given population growth and climate change, that we might be paying a bunch of money upfront for a commodity that will be unavailable in 10 to 20 years. Their argument is that we need to grab our rights while we can, but in lean times, it may not play out in that manner as the state needs to find an equity of distribution based on needs rather than demands or order of preference.

Thus it might be that we are spending a lot of money in preparation for something that will never yield water given increased demands on the source before we even get a stake in it (remember there is 10 years to go between now and then, and there are people in front of us in line).

Moreover, there is great uncertainty about climate changes and how that will impact precipitation including snowfall but also rainfall. The variance in form may determine how water gets to us–ground water versus runoff. The variance in amount may determine whether there is even water to obtain in the first place.

Second, no one asked about the environmental impacts on the Delta that siphoning off even more water from the Sacramento River will produce. I know that the Delta is not in our city, but does that mean that we should not consider the impact of increased demand on the Sacramento River. And it is not just our city that is in line to obtain this water source, but the entire region is lining up for it. Yet no one asked that question.

Overall, I have to say after watching this presentation, I’m more alarmed about this issue than I was previously. Hopefully I will learn more and there will be further opportunities to ask questions on this vital item.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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76 thoughts on “Commentary: Davis City Council Water Workshop”

  1. davisite

    It was a very revealing exchange between Mayor Greenwald and the city staff . I agree that it was very unnerving to see the staff so ill-prepared to address the alternative narrative that Mayor Greenwald proposed. The proposed outlay here deals with hundreds of millions of dollars. Just one exchange clinched it for me.. the staff was cornered into explaining that getting a permit for river water now vs in a decade would, at best, improve access for 3 months- May, Sept and Oct, retreating from the suggestions of their prepared narrative under the Mayor’s questioning. Saylor and Asmundson were unhappy with REAL questions being asked about staff’s assumptions and tried to break in to shut the Mayor off… an unseemly display by them both. This water treatment/surface water combined project needs much more analysis and clear answers to questions raised. THANK YOU Mayor Greenwald!

  2. davisite

    It was a very revealing exchange between Mayor Greenwald and the city staff . I agree that it was very unnerving to see the staff so ill-prepared to address the alternative narrative that Mayor Greenwald proposed. The proposed outlay here deals with hundreds of millions of dollars. Just one exchange clinched it for me.. the staff was cornered into explaining that getting a permit for river water now vs in a decade would, at best, improve access for 3 months- May, Sept and Oct, retreating from the suggestions of their prepared narrative under the Mayor’s questioning. Saylor and Asmundson were unhappy with REAL questions being asked about staff’s assumptions and tried to break in to shut the Mayor off… an unseemly display by them both. This water treatment/surface water combined project needs much more analysis and clear answers to questions raised. THANK YOU Mayor Greenwald!

  3. davisite

    It was a very revealing exchange between Mayor Greenwald and the city staff . I agree that it was very unnerving to see the staff so ill-prepared to address the alternative narrative that Mayor Greenwald proposed. The proposed outlay here deals with hundreds of millions of dollars. Just one exchange clinched it for me.. the staff was cornered into explaining that getting a permit for river water now vs in a decade would, at best, improve access for 3 months- May, Sept and Oct, retreating from the suggestions of their prepared narrative under the Mayor’s questioning. Saylor and Asmundson were unhappy with REAL questions being asked about staff’s assumptions and tried to break in to shut the Mayor off… an unseemly display by them both. This water treatment/surface water combined project needs much more analysis and clear answers to questions raised. THANK YOU Mayor Greenwald!

  4. davisite

    It was a very revealing exchange between Mayor Greenwald and the city staff . I agree that it was very unnerving to see the staff so ill-prepared to address the alternative narrative that Mayor Greenwald proposed. The proposed outlay here deals with hundreds of millions of dollars. Just one exchange clinched it for me.. the staff was cornered into explaining that getting a permit for river water now vs in a decade would, at best, improve access for 3 months- May, Sept and Oct, retreating from the suggestions of their prepared narrative under the Mayor’s questioning. Saylor and Asmundson were unhappy with REAL questions being asked about staff’s assumptions and tried to break in to shut the Mayor off… an unseemly display by them both. This water treatment/surface water combined project needs much more analysis and clear answers to questions raised. THANK YOU Mayor Greenwald!

  5. 無名 - wu ming

    that being said, greenwald’s stance that we’re aksing people today to pay too much already rings a little false. this country as a whole has spent decades passing the bill to their children and grandchildren to pay off, instead of ponying up and investing in infrastructure ahead of time.

    while the question of what course is the best for this particular water plan, the way it was put rubbed me the wrong way.

  6. 無名 - wu ming

    that being said, greenwald’s stance that we’re aksing people today to pay too much already rings a little false. this country as a whole has spent decades passing the bill to their children and grandchildren to pay off, instead of ponying up and investing in infrastructure ahead of time.

    while the question of what course is the best for this particular water plan, the way it was put rubbed me the wrong way.

  7. 無名 - wu ming

    that being said, greenwald’s stance that we’re aksing people today to pay too much already rings a little false. this country as a whole has spent decades passing the bill to their children and grandchildren to pay off, instead of ponying up and investing in infrastructure ahead of time.

    while the question of what course is the best for this particular water plan, the way it was put rubbed me the wrong way.

  8. 無名 - wu ming

    that being said, greenwald’s stance that we’re aksing people today to pay too much already rings a little false. this country as a whole has spent decades passing the bill to their children and grandchildren to pay off, instead of ponying up and investing in infrastructure ahead of time.

    while the question of what course is the best for this particular water plan, the way it was put rubbed me the wrong way.

  9. Rich Rifkin

    “greenwald’s stance that we’re aksing people today to pay too much already rings a little false.”

    I strongly disagree. I share Sue’s concern that when annual water bills start approaching $3,600 a year — that is the projection, if I remember correctly what Sue said at a past council meeting — many current homeowners in town will be greatly harmed, and some may be forced to sell. Hopefully there is a cheaper alternative to what our city staff is recommending.

    David Greenwald writes: “Moreover, there is great uncertainty about climate changes and how that will impact precipitation including snowfall but also rainfall. The variance in form may determine how water gets to us–ground water versus runoff. The variance in amount may determine whether there is even water to obtain in the first place.”

    I had the privilege of interviewing perhaps the foremost atmospheric scientist on this topic, how global warming will impact California’s water, Bryan Weare of UC Davis. It’s pretty scary what Professor Weare believes will happen.

    This quote is from a paper Weare wrote in 2002:

    “A key aspect of the overall higher temperatures will be a dramatic increase in the mean snow line accompanying winter storms (fig. 6). Because of the roughly conical shape of most mountains, a relatively small rise in the snow line will dramatically reduce the area covered by snow and the associated water storage. This will not only lead to more runoff and heightened chances of winter flooding, but also to reductions in the water supplies from reservoirs that are available for irrigation and other uses in summer. This summertime reduction will be due to two factors: the decreased storage of water in the snowpack and the requirement that reservoirs be kept at relatively low levels throughout most of the winter to reduce the chance of flooding. Furthermore, this reduced irrigation water availability will coincide with a greater likelihood that water will evaporate more readily from irrigated fields.”

    To read his whole article — which, if you do, will teach you a lot about the general topic of global warming — go to this URL:

    http://repositories.cdlib.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3162&context=anrcs/californiaagriculture

  10. Rich Rifkin

    “greenwald’s stance that we’re aksing people today to pay too much already rings a little false.”

    I strongly disagree. I share Sue’s concern that when annual water bills start approaching $3,600 a year — that is the projection, if I remember correctly what Sue said at a past council meeting — many current homeowners in town will be greatly harmed, and some may be forced to sell. Hopefully there is a cheaper alternative to what our city staff is recommending.

    David Greenwald writes: “Moreover, there is great uncertainty about climate changes and how that will impact precipitation including snowfall but also rainfall. The variance in form may determine how water gets to us–ground water versus runoff. The variance in amount may determine whether there is even water to obtain in the first place.”

    I had the privilege of interviewing perhaps the foremost atmospheric scientist on this topic, how global warming will impact California’s water, Bryan Weare of UC Davis. It’s pretty scary what Professor Weare believes will happen.

    This quote is from a paper Weare wrote in 2002:

    “A key aspect of the overall higher temperatures will be a dramatic increase in the mean snow line accompanying winter storms (fig. 6). Because of the roughly conical shape of most mountains, a relatively small rise in the snow line will dramatically reduce the area covered by snow and the associated water storage. This will not only lead to more runoff and heightened chances of winter flooding, but also to reductions in the water supplies from reservoirs that are available for irrigation and other uses in summer. This summertime reduction will be due to two factors: the decreased storage of water in the snowpack and the requirement that reservoirs be kept at relatively low levels throughout most of the winter to reduce the chance of flooding. Furthermore, this reduced irrigation water availability will coincide with a greater likelihood that water will evaporate more readily from irrigated fields.”

    To read his whole article — which, if you do, will teach you a lot about the general topic of global warming — go to this URL:

    http://repositories.cdlib.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3162&context=anrcs/californiaagriculture

  11. Rich Rifkin

    “greenwald’s stance that we’re aksing people today to pay too much already rings a little false.”

    I strongly disagree. I share Sue’s concern that when annual water bills start approaching $3,600 a year — that is the projection, if I remember correctly what Sue said at a past council meeting — many current homeowners in town will be greatly harmed, and some may be forced to sell. Hopefully there is a cheaper alternative to what our city staff is recommending.

    David Greenwald writes: “Moreover, there is great uncertainty about climate changes and how that will impact precipitation including snowfall but also rainfall. The variance in form may determine how water gets to us–ground water versus runoff. The variance in amount may determine whether there is even water to obtain in the first place.”

    I had the privilege of interviewing perhaps the foremost atmospheric scientist on this topic, how global warming will impact California’s water, Bryan Weare of UC Davis. It’s pretty scary what Professor Weare believes will happen.

    This quote is from a paper Weare wrote in 2002:

    “A key aspect of the overall higher temperatures will be a dramatic increase in the mean snow line accompanying winter storms (fig. 6). Because of the roughly conical shape of most mountains, a relatively small rise in the snow line will dramatically reduce the area covered by snow and the associated water storage. This will not only lead to more runoff and heightened chances of winter flooding, but also to reductions in the water supplies from reservoirs that are available for irrigation and other uses in summer. This summertime reduction will be due to two factors: the decreased storage of water in the snowpack and the requirement that reservoirs be kept at relatively low levels throughout most of the winter to reduce the chance of flooding. Furthermore, this reduced irrigation water availability will coincide with a greater likelihood that water will evaporate more readily from irrigated fields.”

    To read his whole article — which, if you do, will teach you a lot about the general topic of global warming — go to this URL:

    http://repositories.cdlib.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3162&context=anrcs/californiaagriculture

  12. Rich Rifkin

    “greenwald’s stance that we’re aksing people today to pay too much already rings a little false.”

    I strongly disagree. I share Sue’s concern that when annual water bills start approaching $3,600 a year — that is the projection, if I remember correctly what Sue said at a past council meeting — many current homeowners in town will be greatly harmed, and some may be forced to sell. Hopefully there is a cheaper alternative to what our city staff is recommending.

    David Greenwald writes: “Moreover, there is great uncertainty about climate changes and how that will impact precipitation including snowfall but also rainfall. The variance in form may determine how water gets to us–ground water versus runoff. The variance in amount may determine whether there is even water to obtain in the first place.”

    I had the privilege of interviewing perhaps the foremost atmospheric scientist on this topic, how global warming will impact California’s water, Bryan Weare of UC Davis. It’s pretty scary what Professor Weare believes will happen.

    This quote is from a paper Weare wrote in 2002:

    “A key aspect of the overall higher temperatures will be a dramatic increase in the mean snow line accompanying winter storms (fig. 6). Because of the roughly conical shape of most mountains, a relatively small rise in the snow line will dramatically reduce the area covered by snow and the associated water storage. This will not only lead to more runoff and heightened chances of winter flooding, but also to reductions in the water supplies from reservoirs that are available for irrigation and other uses in summer. This summertime reduction will be due to two factors: the decreased storage of water in the snowpack and the requirement that reservoirs be kept at relatively low levels throughout most of the winter to reduce the chance of flooding. Furthermore, this reduced irrigation water availability will coincide with a greater likelihood that water will evaporate more readily from irrigated fields.”

    To read his whole article — which, if you do, will teach you a lot about the general topic of global warming — go to this URL:

    http://repositories.cdlib.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3162&context=anrcs/californiaagriculture

  13. Don Shor

    I don’t see what alternative approach Sue is advocating. All I see is that she is proposing (I think) a feasibility study for using the deep wells longer. That doesn’t address the wastewater issue. There would be serious issues with any delay in going forward with the project Davis, Woodland, and UCD are already pursuing. This issue has been studied, proposals have been made, and the city is already moving forward on it.

    Most of the questions raised are answered, at least in summary form, in the powerpoint presentation you can download from the city agenda packet (it’s a pdf document).
    Going to a surface water source resolves most of the water quality, supply, and wastewater issues. It’s a pretty expensive thing to do, but it won’t get less expensive if we wait longer to start on it.

    The rather vague climate change issues being raised here don’t really apply to this project, IMO. Nothing about global warming is going to reduce the amount of water in the Sacramento River, just how it’s going to get there (rain vs. snow).

    Waiting for “an equity of distribution based on needs rather than demands or order of preference” will be pretty fruitless. That isn’t the history of water development in the west, and any radical change in the way water rights are apportioned seems very unlikely to me.

    About ten years ago I stood at a Capitol press conference with a bunch of other middle-aged white guys in nice suits (I wasn’t wearing one, so at first they mistook me for a staff person), endorsing the then-new CalFed process on behalf of our nursery industry. Water issues can be complicated. But one reason I’ve supported this project from the start is that it broadens the Davis water supply, reducing our reliance on a poor-quality source.

  14. Rich Rifkin

    Regarding my last post, I think I misread Wu’s comment. I took him to be saying that Sue’s concerns about the future rang false. But Wu specifically said, “already,” meaning the present. Sorry about that. I still think Sue has been right on, when it comes to her concern that our city services are getting expensive, and in the future will be harmfully so.

  15. Don Shor

    I don’t see what alternative approach Sue is advocating. All I see is that she is proposing (I think) a feasibility study for using the deep wells longer. That doesn’t address the wastewater issue. There would be serious issues with any delay in going forward with the project Davis, Woodland, and UCD are already pursuing. This issue has been studied, proposals have been made, and the city is already moving forward on it.

    Most of the questions raised are answered, at least in summary form, in the powerpoint presentation you can download from the city agenda packet (it’s a pdf document).
    Going to a surface water source resolves most of the water quality, supply, and wastewater issues. It’s a pretty expensive thing to do, but it won’t get less expensive if we wait longer to start on it.

    The rather vague climate change issues being raised here don’t really apply to this project, IMO. Nothing about global warming is going to reduce the amount of water in the Sacramento River, just how it’s going to get there (rain vs. snow).

    Waiting for “an equity of distribution based on needs rather than demands or order of preference” will be pretty fruitless. That isn’t the history of water development in the west, and any radical change in the way water rights are apportioned seems very unlikely to me.

    About ten years ago I stood at a Capitol press conference with a bunch of other middle-aged white guys in nice suits (I wasn’t wearing one, so at first they mistook me for a staff person), endorsing the then-new CalFed process on behalf of our nursery industry. Water issues can be complicated. But one reason I’ve supported this project from the start is that it broadens the Davis water supply, reducing our reliance on a poor-quality source.

  16. Rich Rifkin

    Regarding my last post, I think I misread Wu’s comment. I took him to be saying that Sue’s concerns about the future rang false. But Wu specifically said, “already,” meaning the present. Sorry about that. I still think Sue has been right on, when it comes to her concern that our city services are getting expensive, and in the future will be harmfully so.

  17. Don Shor

    I don’t see what alternative approach Sue is advocating. All I see is that she is proposing (I think) a feasibility study for using the deep wells longer. That doesn’t address the wastewater issue. There would be serious issues with any delay in going forward with the project Davis, Woodland, and UCD are already pursuing. This issue has been studied, proposals have been made, and the city is already moving forward on it.

    Most of the questions raised are answered, at least in summary form, in the powerpoint presentation you can download from the city agenda packet (it’s a pdf document).
    Going to a surface water source resolves most of the water quality, supply, and wastewater issues. It’s a pretty expensive thing to do, but it won’t get less expensive if we wait longer to start on it.

    The rather vague climate change issues being raised here don’t really apply to this project, IMO. Nothing about global warming is going to reduce the amount of water in the Sacramento River, just how it’s going to get there (rain vs. snow).

    Waiting for “an equity of distribution based on needs rather than demands or order of preference” will be pretty fruitless. That isn’t the history of water development in the west, and any radical change in the way water rights are apportioned seems very unlikely to me.

    About ten years ago I stood at a Capitol press conference with a bunch of other middle-aged white guys in nice suits (I wasn’t wearing one, so at first they mistook me for a staff person), endorsing the then-new CalFed process on behalf of our nursery industry. Water issues can be complicated. But one reason I’ve supported this project from the start is that it broadens the Davis water supply, reducing our reliance on a poor-quality source.

  18. Rich Rifkin

    Regarding my last post, I think I misread Wu’s comment. I took him to be saying that Sue’s concerns about the future rang false. But Wu specifically said, “already,” meaning the present. Sorry about that. I still think Sue has been right on, when it comes to her concern that our city services are getting expensive, and in the future will be harmfully so.

  19. Don Shor

    I don’t see what alternative approach Sue is advocating. All I see is that she is proposing (I think) a feasibility study for using the deep wells longer. That doesn’t address the wastewater issue. There would be serious issues with any delay in going forward with the project Davis, Woodland, and UCD are already pursuing. This issue has been studied, proposals have been made, and the city is already moving forward on it.

    Most of the questions raised are answered, at least in summary form, in the powerpoint presentation you can download from the city agenda packet (it’s a pdf document).
    Going to a surface water source resolves most of the water quality, supply, and wastewater issues. It’s a pretty expensive thing to do, but it won’t get less expensive if we wait longer to start on it.

    The rather vague climate change issues being raised here don’t really apply to this project, IMO. Nothing about global warming is going to reduce the amount of water in the Sacramento River, just how it’s going to get there (rain vs. snow).

    Waiting for “an equity of distribution based on needs rather than demands or order of preference” will be pretty fruitless. That isn’t the history of water development in the west, and any radical change in the way water rights are apportioned seems very unlikely to me.

    About ten years ago I stood at a Capitol press conference with a bunch of other middle-aged white guys in nice suits (I wasn’t wearing one, so at first they mistook me for a staff person), endorsing the then-new CalFed process on behalf of our nursery industry. Water issues can be complicated. But one reason I’ve supported this project from the start is that it broadens the Davis water supply, reducing our reliance on a poor-quality source.

  20. Rich Rifkin

    Regarding my last post, I think I misread Wu’s comment. I took him to be saying that Sue’s concerns about the future rang false. But Wu specifically said, “already,” meaning the present. Sorry about that. I still think Sue has been right on, when it comes to her concern that our city services are getting expensive, and in the future will be harmfully so.

  21. Rich Rifkin

    For what it’s worth, this is what we are now paying annually for city services, not counting water usage (which varies greatly by household):

    Base water: $84.00
    Retrofit water: $29.52
    Sanitation: $326.64
    Storm sewer: $57.12
    Sanitary sewer: $427.56
    Municipal service tax: $67.74
    Public safety charge: $53.28

    Total: $1045.86

    That is bad enough. However, it apparently will at least triple if all the new systems for water treatment are built.

  22. Rich Rifkin

    For what it’s worth, this is what we are now paying annually for city services, not counting water usage (which varies greatly by household):

    Base water: $84.00
    Retrofit water: $29.52
    Sanitation: $326.64
    Storm sewer: $57.12
    Sanitary sewer: $427.56
    Municipal service tax: $67.74
    Public safety charge: $53.28

    Total: $1045.86

    That is bad enough. However, it apparently will at least triple if all the new systems for water treatment are built.

  23. Rich Rifkin

    For what it’s worth, this is what we are now paying annually for city services, not counting water usage (which varies greatly by household):

    Base water: $84.00
    Retrofit water: $29.52
    Sanitation: $326.64
    Storm sewer: $57.12
    Sanitary sewer: $427.56
    Municipal service tax: $67.74
    Public safety charge: $53.28

    Total: $1045.86

    That is bad enough. However, it apparently will at least triple if all the new systems for water treatment are built.

  24. Rich Rifkin

    For what it’s worth, this is what we are now paying annually for city services, not counting water usage (which varies greatly by household):

    Base water: $84.00
    Retrofit water: $29.52
    Sanitation: $326.64
    Storm sewer: $57.12
    Sanitary sewer: $427.56
    Municipal service tax: $67.74
    Public safety charge: $53.28

    Total: $1045.86

    That is bad enough. However, it apparently will at least triple if all the new systems for water treatment are built.

  25. Rich Rifkin

    “Nothing about global warming is going to reduce the amount of water in the Sacramento River, just how it’s going to get there (rain vs. snow).”

    Don,

    As I understand the facts (which admittedly is from a layman’s perspective), there will be a big question about the availability of water in the Sacramento River and other rivers, going forward. Yes, there will be as much water (perhaps more). But it won’t necessarily be available.

    Why not? Because we don’t have the storage capacity.

    Currently, we get water in the winter from rain (though very little so far this year). And the rest of the year, we get water from snow melt and what is stored in the reservoirs. But if the snow all melts by the end of Spring, then the rivers will run dry or at much lower levels.

    If in the future it rains a lot more in the winter (as it may be too warm to snow), the rivers will run much higher at that time. But it is not the case that we have extra reservoir capacity to capture that extra rain and then consume the water over the dry months.

  26. Rich Rifkin

    “Nothing about global warming is going to reduce the amount of water in the Sacramento River, just how it’s going to get there (rain vs. snow).”

    Don,

    As I understand the facts (which admittedly is from a layman’s perspective), there will be a big question about the availability of water in the Sacramento River and other rivers, going forward. Yes, there will be as much water (perhaps more). But it won’t necessarily be available.

    Why not? Because we don’t have the storage capacity.

    Currently, we get water in the winter from rain (though very little so far this year). And the rest of the year, we get water from snow melt and what is stored in the reservoirs. But if the snow all melts by the end of Spring, then the rivers will run dry or at much lower levels.

    If in the future it rains a lot more in the winter (as it may be too warm to snow), the rivers will run much higher at that time. But it is not the case that we have extra reservoir capacity to capture that extra rain and then consume the water over the dry months.

  27. Rich Rifkin

    “Nothing about global warming is going to reduce the amount of water in the Sacramento River, just how it’s going to get there (rain vs. snow).”

    Don,

    As I understand the facts (which admittedly is from a layman’s perspective), there will be a big question about the availability of water in the Sacramento River and other rivers, going forward. Yes, there will be as much water (perhaps more). But it won’t necessarily be available.

    Why not? Because we don’t have the storage capacity.

    Currently, we get water in the winter from rain (though very little so far this year). And the rest of the year, we get water from snow melt and what is stored in the reservoirs. But if the snow all melts by the end of Spring, then the rivers will run dry or at much lower levels.

    If in the future it rains a lot more in the winter (as it may be too warm to snow), the rivers will run much higher at that time. But it is not the case that we have extra reservoir capacity to capture that extra rain and then consume the water over the dry months.

  28. Rich Rifkin

    “Nothing about global warming is going to reduce the amount of water in the Sacramento River, just how it’s going to get there (rain vs. snow).”

    Don,

    As I understand the facts (which admittedly is from a layman’s perspective), there will be a big question about the availability of water in the Sacramento River and other rivers, going forward. Yes, there will be as much water (perhaps more). But it won’t necessarily be available.

    Why not? Because we don’t have the storage capacity.

    Currently, we get water in the winter from rain (though very little so far this year). And the rest of the year, we get water from snow melt and what is stored in the reservoirs. But if the snow all melts by the end of Spring, then the rivers will run dry or at much lower levels.

    If in the future it rains a lot more in the winter (as it may be too warm to snow), the rivers will run much higher at that time. But it is not the case that we have extra reservoir capacity to capture that extra rain and then consume the water over the dry months.

  29. Don Shor

    That is true, if we do absolutely nothing over the next decade or so to increase reservoir space or manage floods. But those are really matters of engineering and political will. The governor has just proposed two new reservoirs, for example, and though both are expensive neither has insurmountable obstacles. Raising the current reservoirs has been proposed. Expansion of flood control systems that spread flood water out over farmland help reduce flood damage and also replenish groundwater.

  30. Don Shor

    That is true, if we do absolutely nothing over the next decade or so to increase reservoir space or manage floods. But those are really matters of engineering and political will. The governor has just proposed two new reservoirs, for example, and though both are expensive neither has insurmountable obstacles. Raising the current reservoirs has been proposed. Expansion of flood control systems that spread flood water out over farmland help reduce flood damage and also replenish groundwater.

  31. Don Shor

    That is true, if we do absolutely nothing over the next decade or so to increase reservoir space or manage floods. But those are really matters of engineering and political will. The governor has just proposed two new reservoirs, for example, and though both are expensive neither has insurmountable obstacles. Raising the current reservoirs has been proposed. Expansion of flood control systems that spread flood water out over farmland help reduce flood damage and also replenish groundwater.

  32. Don Shor

    That is true, if we do absolutely nothing over the next decade or so to increase reservoir space or manage floods. But those are really matters of engineering and political will. The governor has just proposed two new reservoirs, for example, and though both are expensive neither has insurmountable obstacles. Raising the current reservoirs has been proposed. Expansion of flood control systems that spread flood water out over farmland help reduce flood damage and also replenish groundwater.

  33. Don Shor

    Incidentally, another effect of warming would be that more water would fall as rain on this side of the valley, rather than as snow on the other side of the valley. Warm storms = more rain; cold storms = more snow.
    So Lake Berryessa would have more water more often, which would recharge the ground water in Solano County and potentially provide surface water to users on this side of the causeway. Unfortunately, that water is entirely apportioned to Solano Irrigation District, because (so I’m told) Yolo County chose not to claim any of it when it was available years ago. SID hasn’t been the most cooperative agency in the past.
    As I said, it’s all a bit complicated….

  34. Don Shor

    Incidentally, another effect of warming would be that more water would fall as rain on this side of the valley, rather than as snow on the other side of the valley. Warm storms = more rain; cold storms = more snow.
    So Lake Berryessa would have more water more often, which would recharge the ground water in Solano County and potentially provide surface water to users on this side of the causeway. Unfortunately, that water is entirely apportioned to Solano Irrigation District, because (so I’m told) Yolo County chose not to claim any of it when it was available years ago. SID hasn’t been the most cooperative agency in the past.
    As I said, it’s all a bit complicated….

  35. Don Shor

    Incidentally, another effect of warming would be that more water would fall as rain on this side of the valley, rather than as snow on the other side of the valley. Warm storms = more rain; cold storms = more snow.
    So Lake Berryessa would have more water more often, which would recharge the ground water in Solano County and potentially provide surface water to users on this side of the causeway. Unfortunately, that water is entirely apportioned to Solano Irrigation District, because (so I’m told) Yolo County chose not to claim any of it when it was available years ago. SID hasn’t been the most cooperative agency in the past.
    As I said, it’s all a bit complicated….

  36. Don Shor

    Incidentally, another effect of warming would be that more water would fall as rain on this side of the valley, rather than as snow on the other side of the valley. Warm storms = more rain; cold storms = more snow.
    So Lake Berryessa would have more water more often, which would recharge the ground water in Solano County and potentially provide surface water to users on this side of the causeway. Unfortunately, that water is entirely apportioned to Solano Irrigation District, because (so I’m told) Yolo County chose not to claim any of it when it was available years ago. SID hasn’t been the most cooperative agency in the past.
    As I said, it’s all a bit complicated….

  37. davisite

    Mayor Greenwald was raising important policy issues that impact those whom she represents, i.e. dividing the projects and spreading out the cost over a longer period of time so that the current Davis voters do not have to absorb the lion’s share of the costs.
    There were other issues that became murky as the discussion unfolded.. are the salt level standards really absolute or “goals” that can be approached in negotiations? Greenwald’s alterantive concept should be analyzed by the experts in as detailed a fashion as the already selected narrative that was presented by staff. Only then will there be enough transparancy to satify the Davis voters.. otherwise, I see a referendum on the horizon.

  38. davisite

    Mayor Greenwald was raising important policy issues that impact those whom she represents, i.e. dividing the projects and spreading out the cost over a longer period of time so that the current Davis voters do not have to absorb the lion’s share of the costs.
    There were other issues that became murky as the discussion unfolded.. are the salt level standards really absolute or “goals” that can be approached in negotiations? Greenwald’s alterantive concept should be analyzed by the experts in as detailed a fashion as the already selected narrative that was presented by staff. Only then will there be enough transparancy to satify the Davis voters.. otherwise, I see a referendum on the horizon.

  39. davisite

    Mayor Greenwald was raising important policy issues that impact those whom she represents, i.e. dividing the projects and spreading out the cost over a longer period of time so that the current Davis voters do not have to absorb the lion’s share of the costs.
    There were other issues that became murky as the discussion unfolded.. are the salt level standards really absolute or “goals” that can be approached in negotiations? Greenwald’s alterantive concept should be analyzed by the experts in as detailed a fashion as the already selected narrative that was presented by staff. Only then will there be enough transparancy to satify the Davis voters.. otherwise, I see a referendum on the horizon.

  40. davisite

    Mayor Greenwald was raising important policy issues that impact those whom she represents, i.e. dividing the projects and spreading out the cost over a longer period of time so that the current Davis voters do not have to absorb the lion’s share of the costs.
    There were other issues that became murky as the discussion unfolded.. are the salt level standards really absolute or “goals” that can be approached in negotiations? Greenwald’s alterantive concept should be analyzed by the experts in as detailed a fashion as the already selected narrative that was presented by staff. Only then will there be enough transparancy to satify the Davis voters.. otherwise, I see a referendum on the horizon.

  41. Rich Rifkin

    “Greenwald’s alterantive concept should be analyzed by the experts in as detailed a fashion as the already selected narrative that was presented by staff.”

    I agree.

  42. Rich Rifkin

    “Greenwald’s alterantive concept should be analyzed by the experts in as detailed a fashion as the already selected narrative that was presented by staff.”

    I agree.

  43. Rich Rifkin

    “Greenwald’s alterantive concept should be analyzed by the experts in as detailed a fashion as the already selected narrative that was presented by staff.”

    I agree.

  44. Rich Rifkin

    “Greenwald’s alterantive concept should be analyzed by the experts in as detailed a fashion as the already selected narrative that was presented by staff.”

    I agree.

  45. Doug Paul Davis

    I was really concerned watching this debate last night that staff did a poor job of even addressing alternatives to their proposal. I don’t think that serves council or the city well. Even if we end up going with their recommendations there needs to be a process by which alternatives are vetted. That will be the subject of a future blog no doubt as I believe this is a problem that transcends this issue.

  46. Doug Paul Davis

    I was really concerned watching this debate last night that staff did a poor job of even addressing alternatives to their proposal. I don’t think that serves council or the city well. Even if we end up going with their recommendations there needs to be a process by which alternatives are vetted. That will be the subject of a future blog no doubt as I believe this is a problem that transcends this issue.

  47. Doug Paul Davis

    I was really concerned watching this debate last night that staff did a poor job of even addressing alternatives to their proposal. I don’t think that serves council or the city well. Even if we end up going with their recommendations there needs to be a process by which alternatives are vetted. That will be the subject of a future blog no doubt as I believe this is a problem that transcends this issue.

  48. Doug Paul Davis

    I was really concerned watching this debate last night that staff did a poor job of even addressing alternatives to their proposal. I don’t think that serves council or the city well. Even if we end up going with their recommendations there needs to be a process by which alternatives are vetted. That will be the subject of a future blog no doubt as I believe this is a problem that transcends this issue.

  49. Don Shor

    If you look at page 16 of the powerpoint presentation from the city web page, you’ll see 16 different studies cited, with 11 different consultants having been hired over the years. So before I’d urge any further dollars to be spent on studies, I’d suggest everyone (including Sue) look at those. The water quality of the deep wells is addressed in the city report.
    Page 22 reviews problems with seven of the city’s wells. Page 23 outlines problems with going only with the deep aquifer alternative; I’m sure you could ask for the supporting documentation.
    Page 33 lists the water supply alternatives. And so on.

    This is an update of a decision the council already made in 2002. I don’t see really understand exactly what Sue is asking them to study.

  50. Don Shor

    If you look at page 16 of the powerpoint presentation from the city web page, you’ll see 16 different studies cited, with 11 different consultants having been hired over the years. So before I’d urge any further dollars to be spent on studies, I’d suggest everyone (including Sue) look at those. The water quality of the deep wells is addressed in the city report.
    Page 22 reviews problems with seven of the city’s wells. Page 23 outlines problems with going only with the deep aquifer alternative; I’m sure you could ask for the supporting documentation.
    Page 33 lists the water supply alternatives. And so on.

    This is an update of a decision the council already made in 2002. I don’t see really understand exactly what Sue is asking them to study.

  51. Don Shor

    If you look at page 16 of the powerpoint presentation from the city web page, you’ll see 16 different studies cited, with 11 different consultants having been hired over the years. So before I’d urge any further dollars to be spent on studies, I’d suggest everyone (including Sue) look at those. The water quality of the deep wells is addressed in the city report.
    Page 22 reviews problems with seven of the city’s wells. Page 23 outlines problems with going only with the deep aquifer alternative; I’m sure you could ask for the supporting documentation.
    Page 33 lists the water supply alternatives. And so on.

    This is an update of a decision the council already made in 2002. I don’t see really understand exactly what Sue is asking them to study.

  52. Don Shor

    If you look at page 16 of the powerpoint presentation from the city web page, you’ll see 16 different studies cited, with 11 different consultants having been hired over the years. So before I’d urge any further dollars to be spent on studies, I’d suggest everyone (including Sue) look at those. The water quality of the deep wells is addressed in the city report.
    Page 22 reviews problems with seven of the city’s wells. Page 23 outlines problems with going only with the deep aquifer alternative; I’m sure you could ask for the supporting documentation.
    Page 33 lists the water supply alternatives. And so on.

    This is an update of a decision the council already made in 2002. I don’t see really understand exactly what Sue is asking them to study.

  53. davisite

    I have not looked at the webpage as yet. I will be looking for a SERIOUS presentation of “expert” advice that lays out alternative plans to deal with these issues. Anyone who has followed this issue over the years recognizes that the Davis Public Works Department was pushing for surface water. There was always a “stealth” political feeling as they were repeatedly asked whether the studies they were doing( the funding of which has been a repeated controversial issue in the past)were committing Davis to their concept. Now we are presented with a full narrative and the argument is and will be made that we are so long down the path that an alternative is not a consideration. This will not politically “fly” in Davis.

  54. davisite

    I have not looked at the webpage as yet. I will be looking for a SERIOUS presentation of “expert” advice that lays out alternative plans to deal with these issues. Anyone who has followed this issue over the years recognizes that the Davis Public Works Department was pushing for surface water. There was always a “stealth” political feeling as they were repeatedly asked whether the studies they were doing( the funding of which has been a repeated controversial issue in the past)were committing Davis to their concept. Now we are presented with a full narrative and the argument is and will be made that we are so long down the path that an alternative is not a consideration. This will not politically “fly” in Davis.

  55. davisite

    I have not looked at the webpage as yet. I will be looking for a SERIOUS presentation of “expert” advice that lays out alternative plans to deal with these issues. Anyone who has followed this issue over the years recognizes that the Davis Public Works Department was pushing for surface water. There was always a “stealth” political feeling as they were repeatedly asked whether the studies they were doing( the funding of which has been a repeated controversial issue in the past)were committing Davis to their concept. Now we are presented with a full narrative and the argument is and will be made that we are so long down the path that an alternative is not a consideration. This will not politically “fly” in Davis.

  56. davisite

    I have not looked at the webpage as yet. I will be looking for a SERIOUS presentation of “expert” advice that lays out alternative plans to deal with these issues. Anyone who has followed this issue over the years recognizes that the Davis Public Works Department was pushing for surface water. There was always a “stealth” political feeling as they were repeatedly asked whether the studies they were doing( the funding of which has been a repeated controversial issue in the past)were committing Davis to their concept. Now we are presented with a full narrative and the argument is and will be made that we are so long down the path that an alternative is not a consideration. This will not politically “fly” in Davis.

  57. 無名 - wu ming

    the sum of those exorbitant water/sewage rates come to roughly $87 a month, rifkin. hardly an insurmountable burden for most homeowners in town, even those on fixed income.

  58. 無名 - wu ming

    the sum of those exorbitant water/sewage rates come to roughly $87 a month, rifkin. hardly an insurmountable burden for most homeowners in town, even those on fixed income.

  59. 無名 - wu ming

    the sum of those exorbitant water/sewage rates come to roughly $87 a month, rifkin. hardly an insurmountable burden for most homeowners in town, even those on fixed income.

  60. 無名 - wu ming

    the sum of those exorbitant water/sewage rates come to roughly $87 a month, rifkin. hardly an insurmountable burden for most homeowners in town, even those on fixed income.

  61. Rich Rifkin

    Wu,

    Sure. But the problem going forward is that the required upgrades to our water treatment plant are going to dramatically increase those bills in the next few years. Most of that increase, at this point, seems unavoidable. But I think Sue is right to be wary of any additional plans that would increase those bills anymore.

    (I have not read what Don Shor referred to. Maybe my mind will be changed after I do.)

    Also, while many homeowners can probably handle paying another couple of thousand dollars a year in these expenses, quite a few, I’m sure, cannot. So what do those folks do? And I would guess that a big increase in water treatment expenses will be passed on to many lower-income renters in town, too. That seems to me worth worrying about.

  62. Rich Rifkin

    Wu,

    Sure. But the problem going forward is that the required upgrades to our water treatment plant are going to dramatically increase those bills in the next few years. Most of that increase, at this point, seems unavoidable. But I think Sue is right to be wary of any additional plans that would increase those bills anymore.

    (I have not read what Don Shor referred to. Maybe my mind will be changed after I do.)

    Also, while many homeowners can probably handle paying another couple of thousand dollars a year in these expenses, quite a few, I’m sure, cannot. So what do those folks do? And I would guess that a big increase in water treatment expenses will be passed on to many lower-income renters in town, too. That seems to me worth worrying about.

  63. Rich Rifkin

    Wu,

    Sure. But the problem going forward is that the required upgrades to our water treatment plant are going to dramatically increase those bills in the next few years. Most of that increase, at this point, seems unavoidable. But I think Sue is right to be wary of any additional plans that would increase those bills anymore.

    (I have not read what Don Shor referred to. Maybe my mind will be changed after I do.)

    Also, while many homeowners can probably handle paying another couple of thousand dollars a year in these expenses, quite a few, I’m sure, cannot. So what do those folks do? And I would guess that a big increase in water treatment expenses will be passed on to many lower-income renters in town, too. That seems to me worth worrying about.

  64. Rich Rifkin

    Wu,

    Sure. But the problem going forward is that the required upgrades to our water treatment plant are going to dramatically increase those bills in the next few years. Most of that increase, at this point, seems unavoidable. But I think Sue is right to be wary of any additional plans that would increase those bills anymore.

    (I have not read what Don Shor referred to. Maybe my mind will be changed after I do.)

    Also, while many homeowners can probably handle paying another couple of thousand dollars a year in these expenses, quite a few, I’m sure, cannot. So what do those folks do? And I would guess that a big increase in water treatment expenses will be passed on to many lower-income renters in town, too. That seems to me worth worrying about.

  65. Dave Hart

    I’m confused by the comments showing up in this discussion. Nobody has made it clear which of the 7 alternatives are being proposed for action from the 2002 Water Supply Feasibility Study as posted on the city’s website. There are six alternatives besides doing nothing and “staying the course”. Each one presumably costs more than the previous one as we go to successively greater reliance on surface water diverted from the Sacramento River. Is the proposed action alternative seven, the “full bore” all-the-way alternative? Or did I miss something?

    I’d go to the Davis Enterprise archives, but even though I’ve been a loyal subscriber to the paper version for almost 30 years, I don’t seen to have access to the January 22 article.

  66. Dave Hart

    I’m confused by the comments showing up in this discussion. Nobody has made it clear which of the 7 alternatives are being proposed for action from the 2002 Water Supply Feasibility Study as posted on the city’s website. There are six alternatives besides doing nothing and “staying the course”. Each one presumably costs more than the previous one as we go to successively greater reliance on surface water diverted from the Sacramento River. Is the proposed action alternative seven, the “full bore” all-the-way alternative? Or did I miss something?

    I’d go to the Davis Enterprise archives, but even though I’ve been a loyal subscriber to the paper version for almost 30 years, I don’t seen to have access to the January 22 article.

  67. Dave Hart

    I’m confused by the comments showing up in this discussion. Nobody has made it clear which of the 7 alternatives are being proposed for action from the 2002 Water Supply Feasibility Study as posted on the city’s website. There are six alternatives besides doing nothing and “staying the course”. Each one presumably costs more than the previous one as we go to successively greater reliance on surface water diverted from the Sacramento River. Is the proposed action alternative seven, the “full bore” all-the-way alternative? Or did I miss something?

    I’d go to the Davis Enterprise archives, but even though I’ve been a loyal subscriber to the paper version for almost 30 years, I don’t seen to have access to the January 22 article.

  68. Dave Hart

    I’m confused by the comments showing up in this discussion. Nobody has made it clear which of the 7 alternatives are being proposed for action from the 2002 Water Supply Feasibility Study as posted on the city’s website. There are six alternatives besides doing nothing and “staying the course”. Each one presumably costs more than the previous one as we go to successively greater reliance on surface water diverted from the Sacramento River. Is the proposed action alternative seven, the “full bore” all-the-way alternative? Or did I miss something?

    I’d go to the Davis Enterprise archives, but even though I’ve been a loyal subscriber to the paper version for almost 30 years, I don’t seen to have access to the January 22 article.

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