tv [untitled] October 2, 2011 1:00pm-1:30pm PDT
the carbon footprint of a desalination site? we are aware that our energy intensive. a key thing we have been keeping our eye on is membrane technology, the key to the future. we are trying to make it more viable and bring energy use down more. membranes have not yet made it a slam dunk. last but not least, public and regulatory outreach is where we are going to meet with members of the public, as well as regulatory agencies, to go through what we are learning in terms of the studies and where we may go. we have estimated our staff time component would be about 340 hours, about $35,000, on top of the cash cost which would contribute about $200,000. those dollars add up to roughly a million dollars of expenditure. on the left of the slide, we
have a diagram of the public outrage plan, which in the case of san francisco and the west beirut -- we have identified three public meetings. one would be later this winter to go through detailed scientific studies. about a year from now, we would meet to go over what we are finding it preliminarily, the information coming out. finally, in meeting to report what we found from various studies, we would prepare to move forward with a recommendation one way or the other four condition action. we expect to meet with six to 10 agencies to solicit their planning concerns. within the last month, we have met with two groups -- the bay area water stewards on august 24. about 20 folks were there, representing different environmental groups.
and bawsca, to discuss the concerns we had and this presentation to talk about the regional desalination project. on august 29, we met with a water task force to review the same information so they were informed as we could make them, based on what we know now. we are recommending again that we go forward with this study. we think it will provide useful information in a timely fashion that can allow the commission to make a good decision on the project. i would be happy to answer any questions. >> under the memorandum of agreement that is in our materials, specifically page 3, where you outline the responsibility of various agencies, what is going to be the proposed organization? is this going to be a regional
authority? to go forward with this project, we would need to have either a memorandum of understanding with the agencies, or a contract, or a jpa would be a possibility. >> a joint powers agreement, but none of those exist yet. >> correct. >> once you determine the responsibilities of the agency, will they be coordinated to reflect proportional representation, or will it be equal representation from all agencies? >> participating in the study is right now -- my expectation personally has been at the end there will be less than five. there may be two or three. there may be only one. >> those are three agencies. they can override san francisco concerns? >> we have not explored how that might work out. we could set it up where there has to be unanimous agreement.
>> sort of like the budget committee in congress now, which will never receive agreement. >> that is right. >> that is my concern when we start to establish regional agencies that combine the political interests of four distinct areas, or three. you will run into serious problems as to who controls the water, and whether we will be able to access the 5 billion -- the 9 billion gallons we are thinking of accessing. i know that is in the future, but i want to lay the foundation that those are serious concerns in terms of a regional authority and the impact on ratepayers in san francisco. will we be subject to the political whims of the east bay, contra costa, or santa clara as a result? >> that would be the nature of the agreement we would have to make come up with the protections we need. >> right.
when you are looking at the criteria to determine next steps -- you are asking us to approve the $200,000 to move forward with other regions. how much is santa clara providing? >> $200,000. >> it is an equal share. >> yes. >> what is the criteria you will use -- you are the expert. what is the criteria on whether we move forward after we have expended the $200,000? >> at that time, we will have gathered information of other possible water supply options, including conservation, recycled water, and ground water, water transfers. that is the universe we are talking about. we would try to arrange those in a way where we are comparing apples to apples and enabling the commission to make the best decision, which could be to
pursue one or more of those different options. >> i hate to do this to you because i would hate it to be done to me to speculate. in terms of the carbon footprint, how much of a priority is that going to be in determining criteria acceptability? >> we talked about strategic planning. we need to find our best tools to analyze on this basis how we want to move forward. in the environmental side of things, the that could count very highly. >> that is my question. how are you going to weigh the various elements of the criteria? will one have more weight than the other? it is carbon footprint more important than whether we get the 9 million gallons per day? is it more important, the regional agreement on cost? i am proposing that because these are questions that need to be addressed. i know the environmental
community are concerned about this as well. i do also. >> i agree. that is where the strategic planning discussion was, identifying that staff have a lot of work ahead of them to figure out how we are going to make those things useful decision making tools so we can say carbon footprint is more important than what might appear to be a cheap source of water, because even the cheap sources have things we find unacceptable. >> i accept the professionalism of our staff, but do you think it is necessary to hire outside consultants that may give us a broader view of what we are talking about? >> i think it is a combination of things. we know a lot. we also find from time to time it is useful to have help to sharpen the view. >> are there similar to such adventures in the united states, where this regional approach is
being proposed? >> if you went around the country, you would find every possible combination as people grapple. >> is it possible for staff to give us a comparable analysis in terms of criteria they came up with, how they waited carbon footprint versus accessibility versus price? for me, political dimensions are important as you involve other districts that may not have a common interest. >> i think that is doable. i mentioned that we are in california and see ourselves clearly. right now, texas is going through a horrendous drought. they are doing things they never imagined they would be doing before. there is a lot of talk about direct local reuse and recycle water. whether the last two years and the coming years have changed the dynamic completely -- >> we do not even know the impact of the british petroleum blast on water resources. >> these are all challenging
things. the jet stream -- texas could be california next year. all these things will be different from each other, but we can provide that information and gain insight into how other folks have grappled with the same questions. >> have you made a preliminary heat -- a preliminary determination of the most successful desalination plants in the world? >> there are staff from other agencies here who might provide that. i do not know if i would call it most successful, but the most obvious is the middle east. energy is relatively cheap and water is scarce. from their point of view, it is a big success. >> i am sure it has been subsidized by the saudis. i wanted to point out there is more we could afford to do. >> absolutely. commissioner caen: i think you
could point out also that we have done other activities with other water districts in concert. this is not unique. we have worked with different district. >> that is correct. in this case, the connection to east bay municipal utility district was a pipeline designed for emergency uses. if we wanted to make it permanent connection, we would have to review the changing purpose of that project. we have successfully built a connection. 10 years ago, people would not have thought that would happen. the same with santa clara. we have connections. those ties are what have allowed us to make it through these shut down periods, where we could call on water from other agencies to help us. it has gone the other way as well. we have developed a strong collaborative relationship that included plumbing and moving water.
commissioner courtney: thank you, mr. ritchie. i am glad you brought up texas. that was helpful for me, because i did not want to get into a discussion about the merits of desalinization. but when this came before us for the first time, the most recent time, there were three of us here. i was uncomfortable with the public concern of lack of opportunity to weigh in and that this out -- and vet this out. my concern was there was not sufficient opportunity for members of our public to engage us in the merits of even having the study continue. given the resolution, and in particular whereas no. 3, which i think is significantly
exhaustive -- and then with respect to the description of the agreement at no. 4, the item you place for our consideration regarding public outrage -- the then commissioner -- ad then -- and then commissioner torres's comments about prioritizing -- i wondered whether we could consider the flexibility in terms of the approach with the public. i wondered whether we would give the public an opportunity, through these engagements, to maybe tell us what their priorities were, depending on who showed up. house staff decides to -- how staff decides to collate and present that data may weigh heavily on our decisions. for me, it has been months since
it was raised that time. i feel comfortable with the language, as long as there is enough flexibility given to the members of our public to try to put something together for us to try to digest. >> i think that opportunity will be there. vice president moran: just a comment -- the issue of how you balance things off. in our retreat, the area of discussion where we made the least progress and exposed perhaps the biggest challenge to ourselves was the consideration of the bottom line, and how we do this. the discussion we had was not sufficient to figure out how we deal with that. i think that is an item we need to deal with in a bunch of product -- a bunch of projects, whether that is reclamation or
water supply, specifically desalination, and the clean water program. there are a variety of areas where the basic question of how we process information and make trade-offs is key. that is something we will wrestle with over the next few months. >> for your information, we have a meeting scheduled with all the internal staff from different parts of the puc to talk about bottom line efforts, and any consultants that we have brought together to find how we do that and how consistent this is, which seems to be the best way to move forward. we are trying to work on that by the time we get back to budget discussions, so we can further talk about what we see as options. there is no perfect way. it really is whatever way our customers or stakeholders can make the easiest decision using that information. we are working on that. president vietor: thank you.
one last point i would make that was mentioned in the water supply memo -- there is not a study to quantify the amount of storm water and rain water we could turn into usable supply in san francisco. that would be another important piece to deal with. that hopefully will be a time line that could be relevant early to mid next year. >> that memo was helpful. it demonstrated that desalination is not the most expensive option by far, which is probably counter intuitive. but it is important nonetheless. any other questions or comments? public comment. >> we have a number of speaker cards. the first would be -- it looks like ms. corwan, then mr. wong,
mr. abdullah, mr. brooks. >> good afternoon, commissioners. my name is hassan abdulla. i work for the east bay m.u.d. i have been project manager for the last few years. we have been studying this project since 2003. san francisco has been one of the original partners. now we have five partners. we are trying to figure out whether desalination is an appropriate water supply option for the region. this has been a truly regional cooperation, a cooperative effort. our vision for the project is to
lower environmental effects and project costs by implementing two ideas. first, we want a centralized facility, instead of each agency doing their own desalination at their own facility. we would like one central facility that serves all five, or several agencies. that reduces the footprint. second, our agencies have assets that exist. some are fully utilized. others are not. we would like to maximize utilization to see if we can help neighboring agencies implement this project. this project has been recognized by the state and federal government. we have received $1.20 million through the state through crop 50 funds. in the last two phases we did, feasibility and pilot test, the state-funded 50% of the work. the rest was shared by the four
agencies. what this shows is that for each agency, just by contributing 12.5% of the total project cost, are at the table for studying desalination. this cooperative project allows us to leverage our dollars. we are here today to start the new, and possibly the final, phase of analysis of this project. we want to do hydraulic modeling, delta modeling, water supply modeling to find out the true environmental impacts, and also estimate the full costs to each agency. 94% of this new phase of work may be done by staff time. we are only going out to consultants 46% of the work.
once the -- to consultants for 6% of the work. once the costs are known, our agencies will know whether to take this project to the next level. in these uncertain times, we are not really sure -- and no one can tell with certainty whether just recycling or conservation will be able to meet all our future water demands. not only that, we do not know the true effects of climate change. i think we need to find out the environmental effects of this project to find out whether or not to proceed. thank you. president vietor: next speaker -- vice president moran: next speaker. >> good afternoon. my name is emily corwan, with
contra costa water district. we approved the project in may of this year, and consider desalination the water supply option worthy of continued evaluation. the proposed regional approach represents an opportunity for bay area water suppliers to partner and make our region more resilience during droughts or natural disaster. the tests are in themselves and valuable for emergency preparedness, whether or not a fall the selenite -- whether or not a full desalination facility is pursued. this will evaluate how our agencies can assist each other in the event of a disruption, emergency, drought, planned outages, and integrated water management plan as required by
the state. the questions raised by environmental groups about potential diversion are excellent questions. these are the very questions these studies have been designed to answer. the information we collect during this coming phase will help all of our agencies make fully informed decisions about the potential benefits and consequences of pursuing a shared facility. the information will allow decisions on if, when, and how in the next steps may be approached -- and the next steps may be approached. -- any next steps may be approached. they are immediately valuable for use in future emergencies, and planning integrated water management. the level of cooperation and joint study in this project is without precedent. we look forward to continuing with all the major water agencies in our region on this
study. i also wanted to mention -- commissioner torres asked about other agencies that are examples of working together. on the santa cruz project, there is a joint project with the socal creek water district. they are currently working on their eir, but we are looking at that closely to see how they craft their interagency agreements. what was the other agency? -- commissioner torres: what was the other agency? >> socal creek. >> we are a consumer advocacy group engaged with concerns about desalination.
there are serious environmental implications for a plant on the san francisco bay. i think as word spreads, there will be more common. our salmon populations have been in serious peril, and this would be in the path of their spawning circles. we need to think about how we are spending in areas of limited budget. that is why we are opposed. desalinization will represent a choice between different water supply options. we think it will undermine conservation options, decentralize options that are important in san francisco -- the urban agricultural movement, the use of groundwater and creeks. i would encourage sfpuc to become a leader to further those issues and work with the
community to reinvest ratepayer dollars into the community. i think that would be more appropriate. we are seeing water demand declined all over california, and that is good. there are different reasons. it is important to work to keep water demand low. that needs to be worked out, insuring revenues are met. we are selling our model. how can we do that, encourage conservation and keep demand low? it has been pretty flat in california over the last 25 years. los angeles uses the same amount as 25 years ago, and have english progress in their backyards. that is why we are opposed to this current project. we have seen so much excitement about desalinization all over the state, yet a single project has not been built in the last
20 years. the carlsbad project in san diego has been approved, but has not been built. i think there is only one facility in the united states, in florida, which was hampered by cost overruns and was four years late. that is the example in this country. thank you very much. >> good afternoon, commissioners. my name is eric brooks. i am with grass-roots group our city, and the chair for the san francisco green party. i will reiterate what i have said before. just as building fossil fuel power plants is an aggressive industrial greenhouse gas producing and expensive method of dealing with its effects,
like water impact, building an expensive high energy use desalinization plant represents the same approach. we are building a major industrial facility that belongs in the 20th century when we should be using local approaches to localize our water savings and water supply to our communities, doing things like installing permeable pavement, putting in bio soils, water collection, and gray water piping all over the city. we are talking about things that would create hundreds and thousands of jobs in a time when we need them, when the employment rate is still -- unemployment rate is still going up in san francisco. just on the environmental issues, clearly it is going to be something that is going to
increase greenhouse gases. increasing greenhouse gases to solve the climate crisis is a contradiction in terms. we know that if this facility goes in there will be an impact on endangered species. that is a fact. it is vital that we stop using 20th-century approaches to solve 21st century problems. there is very little justification for projection of water use increases. the numbers are going the other way. i go back to the fact that the economy is in trouble. we need jobs. we could be taking this $200,000 and hiring a crew of workers to install permeable pavement right now. that would put a few people to work. that is the kind of thing we need to be doing with $200,000 in the middle of the great recession, which many are
climbing is over, but obviously is not. we need to pick people to work, -- put people to work, not do a study when scores of proposed desalinization projects in this country -- only one is going forward. that is because when environmentalists like myself come forward and make the case, we prove the case. this is not an environmental way to solve our water and global warming problems. vice president moran: mr. brooks? >> you would concede there is a need in the central valley for more water, correct? it does not fit the model you were referencing earlier. where is permeable pavement used today? >> it is a fairly new process. if you have been walking down the sidewalk, where we have
trees in our sidewalk, and see those little square bricks that have replaced the cement, that is an example of permeable pavement. >> my dog loves that. >> right. it is an example of another environmental benefit of permeable pavement. it allows water to soak into the water table instead of running down into the ocean. as to the central valley, if they have issues, especially because agriculture is taking city drinking water in another direction, i think we all know agriculture still is not doing what it needs to do to conserve water. problems like that need to be handled in the regions where the problems are created. in agricultural areas, sometimes there is brackish water, we'll brackish water in a water table -- real brackish water in the water table,