US civil jury says desalination is the only way to avert drought disaster

A California civil grand jury has ruled that a desalination plant for Santa Cruz County is the only single solution to averting an environmental disaster created by water shortages as a statewide drought continues.

Santa Cruz Mayor Lynn Robinson has warned that the region needs a back up water supply. “Our water future could include shortfalls of as high as 40 percent, and some level of mandatory water use restrictions imposed every 2-3 years,” Robinson said. The city of Santa Cruz and the Soquel Creek Water District were reported to have proposed a desalination plant in the region but ran into opposition from Santa Cruz residents, on cost grounds. But the civil grand jury said that the city of Santa Cruz “did not adequately inform its citizens of the need for water alternatives.” As an example the jury said the city published maps that indicated the impact on the neighborhood of the proposed site were greater than likely. Along with calling for the plant to be brought to the voters, the civil grand jury also recommended exploring interagency water transfers and recycled water. Meanwhile the city of San Diego has recently started construction on what is claimed will be the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere.