The rest of the story
To the Editor:
Marsha Rea’s column of last Friday was certainly thought provoking, but not the full story by any means.
I have been closely involved in the Waste Water Treatment Plant’s design as it has evolved through the years in Santa Paula.
On the east coast, I have been involved in building plants that were at the time “state of the art” (Reston, VA, and the “underground Pentagon” at Weather Mountain, Virginia). The Vertreat/Vertad system from the Canadian firm showed a lot of promise.
The Council (both old and new) wanted a state of the art plant that would be “good” for the next 50 years. They wanted an economical plant, one that could be readily financed, and one that would not break the bank of the ratepayers. The “old” Council, Krause et al, settled on a membrane filter design. The “new” Council, beginning in 2004, decided to stick with membrane filtration but chose to go with a Design, Build, Finance and Operate funding mechanism to simplify the city’s involvement and cap the costs. The thought was to recapture as much effluent from the plant as possible for “re-cycling”. Re-cycling can include: 1.) returning processed water to the aquifer (the current operation), 2.) treating the effluent sufficiently for use on landscaping, playing fields, park areas (some further treatment still required beyond current operations), 3.) irrigation purposes on tree crops and/or row crops (quite a bit more processing required), 4.) blending effluent water into the potable water supply for the city on a nominal ratio, say 5% re-cycled to 95% fresh water (a very significant amount of further processing required, probably reverse osmosis and further disinfection). But there is a problem with doing even the least demanding of the above (number 1). That problem is the amount of total dissolved solids (TDS) and chlorides in the “fresh” water as pumped from the ground and the further degradation of this water after it is processed by the plant. And, over the years, science has found out that there are real risks associated with recycled water unless you go all the way through reverse osmosis, which limits actual recapture to amount 10%, the other 90% having to be disposed through a brine line, most likely to the Pacific Ocean. Now that’s expensive water! Proof of this fact? The current plant has had to include in its maintenance system a small RO (reverse osmosis) filter just to achieve water clean enough to wash down the membrane filters as installed (I believe this was one of the change orders required during construction). So, when Marsha Rea says our “thrown away” water is worth $5,000-$8,000 per acre foot into perpetuity, she has assumed water good enough to at least go through recycled use numbers 2, maybe 3, above, and that is not going to happen without a lot more final processing, maybe all the way to RO (reverse osmosis). That’s the biggest problem in doing what she suggests and in collecting all that money. And by the way, the Council is fully involved in this process; they are not going about their merry way in ignorance. “Recycling” of some kind is coming to Santa Paula, but it won’t be “free” and it won’t yield water that’s marketable at $5000-$8000 per acre-foot into eternity.
Ventura is currently charging its domestic customers approximately $119 per acre-foot for fully potable water as it is consumed, and that’s a long, long way from $5000-$8000 per acre-foot for “water rights”. Some things are easy, recycling aluminum cans for instance is one, other things are very difficult and expensive, recycling “black water” into potable water is one of those, probably the most difficult and expensive recycling process currently known to man. And yes, it actually is “rocket science”; check out the space shuttle’s use of recycled urine.
Bike trail appreciated
To the Editor:
I am writing to tell the citizens of Santa Paula what a good bike trail we have.
I use it all the time, and I see other people biking and walking on it too. It is flat, has no hills or bumps, so that it is easy and fun to ride on. The trail is well taken care of, and has trees and plants around the borders that make it look very appealing. Another nice thing about our trail is that it has working water fountains, and shade, so that you can cool off. You don’t have to pay to get in, or drive very far if you live in Santa Paula.
Thanks to the all people that helped make the Branch Line Trail.
I really like our bike trail. If you have not been on it, it I encourage you all to try the trail.
To the Editor:
Dear Santa Paulans,
I am sure a lot of us feel that once we elect our city council we can then let them handle the affairs of the city. That done, we sit back with the feeling that we have done our part. We’ll just let them deal with the hassles, that way we don’t have to closely monitor the council’s activities. I am sorry, but we can’t live like that anymore. We all need to sit up and take notice of what has been going on; what is being said, and not said.
First of all, I agree that over the past year and ½, the council made some tough decisions in order to keep the city financially solvent. But that doesn’t excuse their ongoing refusal to look for additional revenue sources. There wasn’t even an effort to even begin the RFP process to explore potential revenue. Let’s look at some examples:
The city owns between $500,000 and $750,000 worth of water credits each year. These credits have gone unused for the last two years. Unused water credits can be sold. That means that between 1 and 1 1/2 million dollars of potential revenue has expired untapped. Remember, selling these credits would bring immediate income, without the need to lay pipes or do any additional infrastructure work. I have personally brought this issue up to council members several times and have been politely ignored.
The city owns property parcels that are currently unused. I know for a fact that there have been business entities out there that wanted to lease the property. This has been suggested to council members, and ignored.
There was a proposal made at the end of 2011, that outlined a plan for the construction of a Police training facility. This facility not only would provide training for our own officers, it would generate $80,000 each year in revenue to the city. This project has also suffered an ignominious demise.
Let’s look at public safety for a moment. Why didn’t the council act immediately to find a replacement for the police chief? No councilmember even brought up the subject during the last meetings before the summer recess. Instead the city has been left without a police chief for over three months so far. Even if the recruitments process is begun this week, it will be several more months before we have someone hired and in place leading our department.
Were you aware that our police department is supposed to have 34 full time sworn officers available for duty? (There is some dispute whether it is 32 or 34.) We currently have 21 officers available for duty. Leaving our police department short staffed by almost 40% is inexcusable. These officers are being needlessly put at extreme risk by this shortage. What happens when we start losing more officers as they seek employment with other police departments that provide better pay, better working conditions, and a less hostile management? As citizens, we cannot allow this situation to continue.
Recently a person noted in their letter to the editor that the state prison system has been releasing parolees, some of which have been located in our city. Doesn’t that make an even more compelling case to make sure our department is fully and properly staffed?
Public Safety and unrealized non-tax revenue; these are just two areas that every Santa Paulan needs to be concerned about. In the coming weeks I will describe some additional issues that need our attention. If left unchecked, the situation will become untenable and we will only have ourselves to blame. Remember, it’s our town, it’s our tomorrow.
Candidate for City Council