Water Reclamation Project Comes to Southern California

Posted on Freedom Advocates on December 10, 2007

By Nelson LaPlante

Want a refreshing glass of recycled or reclaimed water? It may have recently been expelled by a stranger into a public toilet.

Imagine an incredibly hot day. Your throat is parched and you desperately need hydration. You reach for a tall, cool glass of partially ‘reclaimed water’. Does that sound refreshing and invigorating? If some people have their way that ‘refreshing’ glass of water may have recently been expelled by a stranger into a public toilet.  Still sound refreshing? You better get used to it, as it is likely that ‘water reclamation’ will soon come to a water district near you.

 Water Reclamation in San Diego…

San Diego’s Mayor Sanders recently vetoed a bill to initiate water reclamation in San Diego. However, his veto was overridden by the council. Mayor Sanders’ reason for the veto was based on the pilot project cost estimated at $10 – $20 million. He saw that as too expensive for the cash strapped city.

The pilot project costs entail such things as:

 ·        Laying of miles of colored pipe,

 ·        Laying about 17 miles of pipes from the North City Water Reclamation Plant to the San Vicente Reservoir,

 ·        Recognizing that the $10 million to $20 million cost is an unrefined rough estimate,

 ·        Water rate increases for the third time in less than twelve months,

 ·        Cost of potable water raising from the current approximately $500 per acre foot to approximately $1,600 per acre foot,

 ·        More expensive than desalinated water.

 At a December 3rd, 2007 meeting, many people spoke for and against this project.  Radio replayed one speech by a proponent calling water a finite resource and as such it should be recycled. This prompted me to recall a statement by Michael Shaw in an interview with Dr. Stan on Radio Liberty. He brought up the fact that water does not disappear. It is always around, though in a variety of stages and changing locations.

Water Reclamation in general…

Here are some facts related to the available water supply:

·        Any decrease is based on the minimal amounts humans consume without expelling. ·        Green plant material increases available water supply.

·        Water historically remains in relatively constant quantity.

·        Water does not disappear. It may be steam, ice, vapor or water but it continues to exist.

Water Reclamation Issues…

Here are the water management issues we need to address:

·        Water collection—where does your drinking water come from?

·        Water distribution systems—what is in the drinking water in your supply? 

Increased dialogue on water reclamation issues stem from:

·        Southern California’s recent drought.

·        The US Department of Agriculture declared drought-related disasters in 17 California counties.

·        Sonoma and Santa Cruz counties have initiated mandatory rationing.

·        The Colorado River system is shrinking,

·        Lake Mead and Lake Powell are at near half their capacity.

Water Reclamation Crises (So called)…

An outrageous, unnecessary addition to this (so-called) crisis came from an order issued by Eastern California Federal District Judge Oliver Wanger. His order threatens to reduce water delivery from the San Joaquin-Sacramento River delta by up to 200 acre-feet. This is equivalent to the amount used by 4,000,000 households in one year. The purpose of his order is to protect the Delta Smelt, a tiny fish.

Pumping has already been greatly reduced including a complete 9-day shutdown. This severely damaged farmers who not only count on this water, but have property or contractual rights to the water.

Farmers who lose their security of water rights cannot count on or deliver the blessings of free enterprise farming.  Without free enterprise farming, food supplies will shrink and farmers who remain will grow what government directs them to grow.

Water Reclamation in the United States…

Water recycling is popular in many areas in the United States:

·        Water is collected, filtered and used to water golf courses and lawns.

·        Recycled water that is used on crops in the food chain has more stringent purity requirements.

Drinking Water Reclamation Concerns and Challenges…

Our concern is recycling drinking water in the United States. There are two methods of injecting recycled water into public drinking water:

·        Indirect use. The recycled waste water is injected in a ground water aquifer or a reservoir.

·        Direct use. The recycled water is injected directly into the public water supply.

Here are two instances of In Direct use of recycled waste water:

·        Since 1976 Orange County, Californiahas pumped purified wastewater into an underground aquifer.

·        The Occoquan Reservoir in Northern Virginiahas been topped up with recycled water since 1978.

Water Reclamation Science Pros and Cons…

Proponents of water recycling claim it is a perfectly safe application of existing science. They use scientists who tell us that reclaimed water is perfectly safe and there is nothing to worry about. Where have we heard that one before? (See below.)

Opponents to water recycling make these significant points:

·        If recycled water is continuously tested for purity and safe 99.9% of the time, what is the degree of risk the remaining 0.1% of the time?

·        A failure rate of one in one thousand has the potential to expose thousands, ten thousands, even millions of people to a biological hazard.

·        Reclaimed water will include human liquid waste, hormones, pharmaceutical byproducts, industrial and other hazardous chemicals discharged in sewage.

Following are two examples of why we need to be suspect of recycling water to safe, potable condition fit for human consumption.

·        First. Consider the pharmaceutical industry. They do expensive, stringent testing to insure the purity and safety of new drugs. They work with rigidly controlled substances in the cleanest possible labs. Yet, in spite of these efforts, we all know of drugs that get into distribution, then encounter human reaction problems.

·        Second.  Technology, patented by Phoenix Water Systems in Spokane , WA, utilized a combination of ultrasonic, electromagnetic fields, ultraviolet light and ozone to destroy cryptosporidium and other microbiological contaminants. This process proved to be very difficult to sustain. The electronic frequencies have to be held within very tight tolerances. Some frequencies kill cryptosporidium and others seem to boost it. As difficult as this process is, it was better than other processes used to purify drinking water.

The point here is that these examples illustrate the difficulty with ‘cleaning’ up with rigid controls of chemicals or normal supply water. Now project this onto trying to clean and purify water that has been subjected to human use, industrial use and all the other potential hazardous substances.

Summarizing Water Reclamation…

The simple, bottom-line reason not to pursue drinking water reclamation and use is that there are a number of safe options to boost California’s water supplies. For example:

San Diego is on the Pacific Ocean, the largest body of water on earth. InSan DiegoCounty, Poseidon, a private company, wants to build a desalination plant to harvest this massive water resource.

Poseidon has pursued the rights to build The Carlsbad Desalination Project. This will purify over 50 million gallons of ocean water per day. After five years of delays, this project is finally nearing approval.

Here are relevant quotes from the Poseidon website: http://www.carlsbad-desal.com/ 

With a final hurdle within sight, the controversial Carlsbaddesalination plant appears to be on schedule.

The state Coastal Commission approved construction of the proposed $300 million desalination plant on a 9-3 vote. But did so by imposing 20 conditions on the developer, Stamford, Conn.-based Poseidon Resources Corp.  

Now the project will face its final hurdle in the approval process with the California State Lands Commission next week.

This happened after a long, arduous, expensive process. Note that ‘final approval’ processes in California always hold an element of risk. 

The “water crisis” is a manufactured one. It could have been avoided were the necessary projects allowed to go through when proposed decades ago.

We have allowed regulations and so-called environmental concerns to get in the way of necessary improvements and additions to reservoir systems.

To compound the problem, many use this, and other crises, as reason to try to get local governments to limit or stop growth in populous areas and completely stop rural area improvements.

The references to Phoenix Waters Systems process were obtained by Vern Westgate who worked at and wrote process data for them in the mid-1990s.

Water Reclamation Project Comes to Southern California by Nelson LaPlante

Nelson LaPlante worked as an intern for Freedom Advocates and is now teaching Macro Economics and Business Statistics courses at Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington.

[This article contains links to outside sources not controlled by Freedom Advocates and therefore are subject to change.]


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