A desalination plant for Santa Cruz County has been talked about and studied for years. Now, a civil grand jury said it is the only single solution to averting an environmental disaster.
What is more important, of course, is whether the Grand Jury is "right" in the conclusions it came to.
Apparently, the Grand Jury didn't know that both the City of Santa Cruz and the Soquel Creek Water District have been part of a statewide industry group that is dedicated to advancing desalination in California, as the group's "sole mission." This industry-sponsored group, CalDesal, takes public money from its public agency members, like the City of Santa Cruz, which is still a member, and then uses that money to advance the desalination cause, statewide. The major beneficiaries of this effort are the engineering and construction companies that seek to build hugely expensive desalination plants. Their analysis of desalination as the right "solution" to water supply problems is highly suspect. You would think that the Grand Jury might have had some suspicion about arguments advanced by public agencies that have subscribed to the advancement of desalination as a their "sole mission." No such suspicion or skepticism is manifested in the Grand Jury Report.
The conceptual problem, however, is this: the actual challenge isn't to find a new, "supplemental water supply." The real problem is to find a way to bring into balance our water supply and our demand for water. We don't have to find a new water source if we can achieve a supply and demand balance by efforts made on the "conservation" side. If we can lower our "demand" parameters, we can solve our problem that way. It is just not true that the "only" solution is to find some new water source. We can change demand as well as supply - and probably a lot more cheaply, as a matter of fact. That is what the City and the District never have been willing to admit, and perhaps that is because they are affiliated with the CalDesal goal of pursuing desalination as the "sole" way to address water supply problems.
I think it is too bad that the Grand Jury wasn't a bit more analytical, and a bit less gullible.