When More Is Too Much

Testimony at the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) of Santa Cruz County in opposition to two resolutions to approve an increase in water service area for an expanded University of California Santa Cruz campus:

My name is Michael Lewis. I am a water customer of the Santa Cruz City Water Department living in Live Oak. This means that I cannot vote on City water policy, but I have to pay for it. I rode my bicycle to this meeting to ask you to postpone the decision on expanding City water service on the UCSC campus until you have all relevant information.

The City has spent millions of dollars documenting the fact that City growth has exceeded available water supplies, in an attempt to justify their plan to build a 2.5 million gallons per day ocean water desalination plant. The City is studying this possibility but has not yet decided that the plant can be built. So we are told.
Meanwhile opposition to the desal plant is growing, especially in the unincorporated Santa Cruz County where 34,000 of my neighbors cannot vote on City water policy but are forced to pay for it.
In order to justify its plan to expand water service to the UCSC campus, the City promises to offset the increased UCSC water demand through increased water conservation by all other water customers. This is interesting, since the City has spent millions of dollars in public relations to convince Santa Cruz City and County water customers that there is no capacity in the water system for increased conservation and the only option available to meet the City’s growing water demands is a desal plant.

I’m confused. Which Santa Cruz City Water Department am I to believe, the one that says we can have increased water conservation, or the one that says we can’t? 

Many years ago, Ed Abbey told us, “Unlimited growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell.” When growth exceeds critical resources, it’s time for growth to stop.

In light of these uncertainties, it is irresponsible to approve water service expansion to UCSC until all the necessary information is available. Please postpone your decision on these resolutions until all the facts are in. 

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