Forum to address Rancho Bernardo’s lack of recycled water
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
There will be a forum next week to discuss possible ways to bring recycled water for landscaping to Rancho Bernardo.
The event will be 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21 at Bernardo Heights Country Club, 16066 Bernardo Heights Parkway in Rancho Bernardo. To RSVP contact Michael Spayd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 858-487-4022.
The organizers — including resident Jim Denton — are with Bernardo Heights Country Club and Community Association of Bernardo Heights. Both have extensive green areas that need water to maintain their appearance and have been exploring for a few years how to get less expensive water for landscaping, Denton said.
“Initially, we thought the two of us together could find a way to do this by using a self-contained waste water processing system capturing run-off and storm water at our pond on the 12th hole of the golf course,” Denton said. “As a result, we elicited a water processing consultant to review our needs and the likelihood that we could accomplish our objective on our own. … (The conclusion was) wells were not an option and there was not a good enough source of waste water to meet our needs. … (Therefore,) the only rationale and feasible solution for us was to get recycled water to our area.”
Among forum panelists will be RB’s former City Councilman Brian Maienschein, its City Councilman-elect Mark Kersey, RB Planning Board Chairwoman Terri Denlinger and RB Community Council President Robin Kaufman. They and others will talk about the community’s need for recycled landscaping water, possible solutions and the process to get the project moving forward for public and commercial areas.
Denton said City Councilman Carl DeMaio was invited but due to scheduling conflicts is unable to attend.
By the forum’s conclusion, Denton said organizers hope to develop an action plan and enlist attendees’ support. This could include them agreeing to go door-to-door to collect signatures for a petition requesting water officials pursue bringing recycled water to the area or provide “significant rebates” to offset water costs. Depending on the scope, the project could go beyond RB and include Carmel Mountain Ranch and Rancho Penasquitos.
Though Denton said locals have been unable to gain city water officials’ support in bringing recycled water through city pipes or a neighboring water district’s, Eric Symons said city officials have encouraged Rancho Bernardans still wanting recycled water for landscaping to contact Olivenhain Municipal Water District to see if its purple pipes in 4S Ranch could be extended to Rancho Bernardo. However, Olivenhain officials must contact the City of San Diego to get the project started. City funding is not available, but residents could decide to assess themselves to make it financially feasible — similar to the Maintenance Assessment District fees many property owners pay with their property taxes.
Symons, supervising public information officer for the city’s public utilities department, said in 2005 the City Council decided to not pursue the $60 million Phase III of its Recycled Water Master Plan developed in late 2000 — which would have brought recycled water for landscaping via “purple pipe” to Rancho Bernardo — in favor of a water purification demonstration project — dubbed by some “toilet to tap” — that would increase the amount of drinkable water citywide.
“We could produce more water than bringing recycled water to Rancho Bernardo,” he said.
Symons said in Rancho Bernardo there are about 2.4 million gallons of water per day used for commercial and landscaping uses. The amount was deemed not enough for a $60 million investment, saying the council favored a “most bang for the effort” approach.
“The City Council decided not to move forward (with Phase III),” he said. “Instead of the recycled water in the north city plan, they wanted to add to the drinking water (supply).”
If the demonstration project is deemed unfeasible by 2015, Symons said the City Council could reconsider its decision to abandon the Phase III recycled water project.
In the meantime, the city is completing the final aspects of Phase II, which include bringing recycled water to Pacific Highlands Ranch, Carmel Valley and Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve. In Pacific Highlands Ranch, there is to be a recycled water pressure reducing station and 16-inch recycled water pipeline, with a smaller pipe going along state Route 56 by early 2014. That project is costing the city $1.4 million, with the remainder paid through various sources. The $3.8 million Carmel Valley project is to be completed this summer. The 1.7-mile Los Penasquitos project costs $5.2 million and is to be finished this fall.
Symons said some of these projects are being partially funded through developer fees in those communities.
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