VOTE Markus Lenger for South Coast Water District

Water Security We Can Afford

“I am in essence an environmentalist and a scientist. I take a scientific approach to problem solving. This means thoughtful consideration and analysis of all viable solutions, with no preconceived notions but an overarching sensitivity to the environment. The key to robust solutions is independent study and expert analysis coupled with independent, unbiased peer review. Dana Point, like all cities, needs water security. I believe this comes not from a relentless gamble on a hugely expensive and technologically risky desalination plant, but from a diversified approach ensuring that all practical, environmentally sound alternatives are thoroughly considered and vetted. Increased wastewater recycling, proven graywater/reuse technology and state of the art irrigation management have a lot to bring to the table before we burden the ratepayers of our small district with $120 million in new debt.” - Markus Lenger

Why You Should Care

South Coast Water District proposes to solve the local water shortage by building a desalination plant in Doheny Village, at an estimated cost to its 12,200 rate payers of over $120 Million Dollars.

The desalination process is the right choice in some situations but this proposal, in its current form, is not right for us. Upwards of $10 million of rate payer’s money is already spent on consulting companies, that provide glossy brochures promising ecological sustainability and water security as certainties. I have many questions concerning their proposal and have found too many discrepancies in their claims to remain silent.

Many of you have asked me to unearth the real facts, reveal the uncertainties and debunk the many myths surrounding the proposed desal plant. Now, my case against the proposed desal plant is stronger than ever and I will continue to update this website and my Facebook page – Markus Lenger – Water Innovator, to bring you the facts as I find them.

As a relatively small district we simply can’t afford it. Especially in times like these funds are limited and the cost of water is actually much higher than you may think. Roughly 20% of your property taxes goes straight to the SCWD - that’s around $2k a year for the average homeowner or renter whose rent is tied to owners’ costs. That’s on top of the monthly water bill! It’s fair to say that everything said and done we pay more for water than electricity and there are no real alternatives. We need the water and we have to pay the asking price, no matter how high. SCWD says its mission is to be “entrusted by our community to provide water resources essential for sustaining life.” So far, we have trusted them to spend upwards of $10 million on consultants alone without a single permit secured and without earning the support of any other water district partners. We have also trusted them to report the facts, some of which have not been made clear. For example, did you know that the proposed desalination plant will require close to 40% of the City of Dana Point’s entire energy usage at full capacity? Did you know that once the State revolving fund becomes due to pay for the completed $100 million sewer tunnel next year, even at preferential interest rates, your bill will increase by over $30? The debt service on the proposed desalination plant, now estimated at $120 million, (I believe it to be significantly higher due to the untested nature of the slant-well and other cost omissions in the project) which will produce water that is more expensive than purchased water, will cause yet another significant increase. Desalination has been named by MIT and United Nations as bad for the environment because it creates more waste (for our delicate ocean eco-system) than useable product. Furthering the dilemma is that not a single partner expressed interest in participating in this project. Why? High costs and risk. Desalination is now too expensive even for the Arab Gulf states who have access to very cheap energy from oil. This is a project our grand kids will still be paying for and it will be obsolete long before that, possibly even before it ever produces water. Other proposed desal projects in California have recently been either delayed or axed, mainly due to prohibitive energy usage and excessively high cost when compared to other sustainable options. Oceanside’s desal plant has constant challenges and can’t meet the required water quality and cost targets. It was proposed to cost $320 million but the final price tag was over $900 million.