OPINION: City needs to talk about risks of water plan

By John Berol

La Jolla resident

At 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 6 the City of San Diego appeared before the La Jolla Community Planning Association at the Rec Center to explain its $11.8 million test program to prove it can filter what we flush down our toilets into water which is safe to drink. I bet 100 to 1 that the test results will say “yes it can.”  But, before getting my vote to put that filtered water into our drinking water reservoir, the City (which is unable to fill potholes and keep our street lights working) would need to demonstrate a system design which would protect us from human error, malfeasance, and cover-up.

Thinking about that system design should be the city’s first priority. So far I have only seen discussion of the exciting reverse osmosis technology with no discussion of the dangers of having a human-made catastrophe such as Chernobyl, Three-Mile Island, Valdez oil spill, Katrina lack of preparedness, BP oil spill, and World War II fighter plane engine defects. As to the latter, see Time magazine, Oct. 18, 1943, "...the company (National Bronze) patched up the (defective) parts, changed the serial numbers and shipped them back to Packard as new parts (for fighter plane engines)...."


The city of San Diego deserves praise for planning to supplement our water supply with consideration that reclamation uses less energy than desalinization. It needs to also consider the risk to our lives if its future large-scale filtering project is not managed as well as its current small-scale test. To earn my trust, the city needs to speak openly about the risk of management failure and how it plans to minimize such risk.



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