Santa Cruz officials back off desalination project

City officials have pushed back implementation of the proposed Santa Cruz seawater desalination project in California, as a result of public comment on the draft environmental impact report (EIR).

Santa Cruz mayor, Hilary Bryant, and city manager, Martín Bernal, said in a joint statement on 20 August 2013, “The Santa Cruz community is not ready for desalination at this time, and we need a reset in the ongoing conversation on water supply and desalination issues.”

Bernal recommended a four-point plan to the city council:

· A vote on desalination should not be pursued by the city in 2014

· In order to complete the significant public investment made to date in the draft EIR, to respond to comments by community members offered on the draft EIR and to inform future discussions about the city’s water supply, the EIR will be completed

· Bernal will ask the Water Department to bring forward a plan to engage the community in becoming a top water conservation city in California

· Bernal will bring forward a community-involvement plan to the council to look further into the key areas of interest that have developed and to craft a clear vision for the future of Santa Cruz’s water supply.

Bruce Daniels, vice-president of Soquel Creek Water District, the city’s partner in the desalination project said: 
”This is not a problem that can wait much longer for a solution and we want our customers to know that we are moving forward to find the best long-term options. We are still committed to continue evaluating desalination, mandatory water rationing, expanding our water demand offset program, moratoriums, water transfers and other regional solutions.”