Pure Water Awash In Dirty Ethics

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North City Project Pure Water San Diego Program

Commentary Louis Rodolico

In blatant violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements Pure Water completed 60% Engineering plans before public comment. The Pure Water Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is proposing pumping raw sewage, in a four foot diameter pipe, under high pressure (260 psi), uphill 400’ from the Morena Pump Station to the Miramar Pure Water Facility 10 ½ miles away through our residential neighborhoods. They chose the least safe and most disruptive alternative (see red dashed line on the map). I support the Pure Water program, but the forcemain route shown in this EIR needs to be scrapped.

The Pure Water 10% Design link is at the end of this article. This document should have been released in March 2016, but was released two weeks ago with very little time for public comment. Go to pdf page 147 to see the SDGE easement yellow dashed line on the map. The community generally likes this alternate within the existing SDGE power line easement. It would be 8.9 miles long, 50-80 feet deep and would be the least disruptive during construction. This is the only alternate that has both the 48 inch diameter and 30 inch diameter high pressure sewer mains in a 9 foot diameter tunnel so any leaking raw sewage can be collected without contaminating the environment. Pure Water should consider placing the large forcemain pump at the base of the SDGE easement.

The Pure Water EIR Proposal is silent on how they chose their red dashed line route on the map, but we can safely conclude the following. The blue dash line on the map was rejected by Caltrans, who is ok with purple pipe irrigation water next to highways but not high pressure raw sewage. The Friends of Rose Canyon (FORC) have half a million in the bank and eager to sue if an attempt is made to bring it up Regents Road or through Rose Canyon. Westfield Mall and Costa Verde Shopping Center have the cash to sue if placed in front of their facilities. This EIR will probably not sustain a lawsuit so those who have the means to sue, by default, force Pure Water to place the forcemain elsewhere.

Hopefully the University Community Planning Group (UCPG) and the Clairemont Community Planning Group (CCPG) will coordinate and insist on the SDGE yellow path, the Amtrak or Caltrans paths or better yet the elimination of pumping raw sewage uphill altogether.

The battle lines are drawn. Since Pure Water already purchased 60% construction documents, they are motivated to tell us whatever it takes to complete their selected alternate (red dashed line on the map). If public outrage overturns this solution, then who will pay the engineers for their time? They should have come to the public first and not try to sidestep public safety and community disruption during construction. If Caltrans is ok with irrigation water next to the highways why not partially process water to the irrigation level before pumping it 400 feet uphill? The EIR red dashed line solution will involve reducing Genesee Avenue from four to two lanes and will probably destroy the Torrey Pines north of Governor. Genesee is the only north south UC highway completed, Regents Road Bridge was never built and neither was the Governor to Gillman connector. If the city insists on digging up highways why not bring it up a low volume road like Regents and leave the congested Genesee corridor alone? Answer: Pure Water cannot bring it up Regents Road without being sued by FORC.

We get a window into our political reality in a 2008 article written by Attorney Rani Gupta for the Voice of San Diego;

“When the environmental group Friends of Rose Canyon (FORC) mulled a lawsuit over the expansion of the Westfield University Towne Center mall a few months ago, labor leader Lorena Gonzalez knew who to call. Westfield officials asked Gonzalez, who favored the expansion, to arrange face time with the group, which had been represented in past lawsuits by her brother Marco, an environmental lawyer. She called Friends of Rose Canyon President Deborah Knight and phoned her brother, who signed on to represent the environmental group in the Westfield dispute. A series of meetings followed, and the two sides hammered out a settlement, the terms of which remain confidential.”

Why would a canyon group like FORC sue a Mall for expanding and what did they get for their threat? The Mall does not share a property line with Rose Canyon. FORC wraps themselves in a mythology of protecting animals; however FORC rejected; removal of the train from Rose Canyon, building the Regents Road Bridge and installing safe pedestrian/bike passages across the train tracks at Regents Road and at Gillman.  At a recent UCPG meeting FORC went uncharacteristically public and tried to extort three million dollars from Alexandria. This was halted when FORC and a UCPG member were shouted down with audience cries of extortion. However, there is nothing stopping FORC from entering into confidential/secret agreements with Alexandria. Eager to sue, but not eager to improve Rose Canyon, how many secret agreements have FORC entered into, and how many of them effect spending of our public dollars? FORC holds no public meetings and their benefactors are not public record.

Pure Water has taken a page out of the FORC playbook by concealing information from the public and not releasing the 10% Design solution on March 2016. Why should the community have to bear the expense of a lawsuit to overturn the results of these dirty political ethics? How on earth did we get here?

You can E-Mail your comments to Pure Water North City Project at: DSDEAS@sandiego.gov

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Abstract: Your comments on the EIS must be received by January 8, 2018, to be included in the final document considered by the decision-making authorities. Please send your written comments to the following address: Doug McPherson, Southern California Area Office, Bureau of Reclamation, 27708 Jefferson Avenue, Suite 202, Temecula, CA 92590 or email your comments to dmcpherson@usbr.gov.

Louis Rodolico has been a University resident since 2001                                                  Additional documents at: louisrodolico.com

Links:

Pure Water EIR Proposal

https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/north_city_project_pure_water_san_diego_program_public_review_draft.compressed.pdf

Pure Water 10% Design, March 2016     At: louisrodolico.com   Go to Additional Positions or:

http://www.louisrodolico.com/uploads/7/5/2/2/75221087/nc01-10pct_final.pdf

Pure Water 60% Submittal

louisrodolico.com   Go to Additional Positions; Pure Water 60% Submittal Engineering Plan to Right

VOSD Article

https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/government/thirty-something-brother-and-sister-and-atop-san-diego-politics/