[env-trinity] San Luis Obispo Comments on San Luis Drainage DEIS
tstokely at trinityalps.net
tstokely at trinityalps.net
Tue Aug 30 12:00:54 PDT 2005
DUMPING OF CONTAMINATED WATER:
Deadline nears for pipeline critics; County officials repeat opposition to
dumping toxic Central Valley water off Cayucos coast
San Luis Obispo Tribune 8/29/05
By Bob Cuddy, staff writer
As the Thursday deadline for public comment approaches, San Luis Obispo
County officials have reiterated their opposition to a proposal that could
bring selenium-tainted water from the Central Valley to Estero Bay.
The federal Bureau of Reclamation already has said that the so-called
"ocean disposal alternative" is unlikely. But those concerned with
protecting the county's coastline are treating it as still very much on the
table and are fighting it vigorously.
"This is one of those stealth kinds of things that kind of sneaks in under
the radar," said Christine Mulholland, a San Luis Obispo city councilwoman
and member of the county's Water Resources Advisory Committee.
Planning Commissioner Bruce Gibson, who lives in Cayucos, said stopping the
pipeline "is like a 2-foot putt: We should be able to do it (easily)."
But taking things for granted is a bad idea, he said. "This (protesting)
is a dance we have to do."
He said Central Valley agribusiness is politically powerful and could
pressure the federal government to ship the waste to the ocean.
The bureau wants to get rid of the polluted water that has plagued the
Central Valley for decades and is being stored there. The problem reached
the public's consciousness in the early 1980s, when agricultural runoff
tainted with the mineral selenium killed thousands of birds at the
Kesterson Wildlife Refuge. The federal government has been trying ever
since to find a safe way to dispose of the wastewater.
The bureau has been floating several options, one of which, the ocean
disposal alternative, would allow the bureau to build a pipeline from the
valley to Point Estero and dump the toxic water into the Pacific Ocean.
The dump site would be approximately 1.4 miles west of Cayucos at a depth
of 200 feet.
Other options include treating the water and dumping it in the Sacramento
River delta at either Chipps Island or the Carquinez Straits; and treating
it, reusing half of it and putting the rest in evaporation ponds.
The alternatives are outlined in a 900-page environmental impact statement.
Officials and individuals throughout the county have been arguing all
summer against the ocean disposal alternative, and residents massed in
opposition at a July 14 meeting in Cayucos. The Board of Supervisors
recently reiterated its opposition.
The advisory committee outlined numerous objections, including:
The route of the 42-inch-diameter pipeline is not well-defined and could
run too close to the Whale Rock Reservoir;
The EIS did not address possible pipeline failure;
The report did not study the possible effects on Estero Bay; and
The report did not outline either costs of energy or how the bureau plans
to reimburse property owners who would have to give over part of their land
to the pipeline.
In fact, said the committee's Frank Honeycutt, the biggest problem with the
environmental statement is its general lack of information.
"They vaguely have a route" for the pipeline, he said, and much of the rest
of the information also is vague.
Jeff McCracken of the Bureau of Reclamation said Friday that the bureau
expects to have a decision by July 2006. He said it is likely to be an
in-valley alternative because the other options would take more time to
implement, especially building a pipeline to the ocean.
"We have to be up and running by 2009," McCracken said. #
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