Rick Longinotti of Desal Alternatives, and Jan Bentley, retired City Superintendent of Water Production, will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the Draft EIR on the desal project.
According to Rick Longinotti, "There's good news in the Draft EIR. It reports that even with fish habitat constraints, the severity of a worst case drought has dropped from 45% curtailment in 2003 to 29% currently. That's because water use has dropped considerably in the last ten years."
What this means is that Santa Cruz is very close to the threshold established by the Water Commission in 2003 as the maximum tolerable level of curtailment: 25%. If a few conservation measures could reduce our current curtailment risk below 25%, the desal plant would not be warranted according to the Water Commission's standard.
The biggest weakness in the Draft EIR is the claim that there is no significant environmental impact for the project because the plant is to be "carbon neutral". The plan to accomplish carbon neutrality on the energy-intensive project centers on the purchase of "certified greenhouse gas offsets". The EIR fails to evaluate the offset strategy. Nor does it discuss what "certified" means, or whether any "certified offsets" will be available to purchase.
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