News Feature | June 24, 2014

San Diego Water Policy Criticized Again

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

sandiegoreg

San Diego water policy came back under the microscope recently after a grand jury told officials to invest more heavily in water infrastructure. 

"The county grand jury took the city of San Diego to task for not moving fast enough to enhance the local water supply," San Diego 6 reported.

Water policy is a contentious issue in San Diego, where infrastructure challenges abound. The latest critique comes on the heels of allegations that the San Diego Water Authority has violated the California Environmental Quality Act by turning a blind eye to the dangers of climate change, as Water Online previously reported

The grand jury report said the City Council needs to "assume the mantle of leadership and provide funding for future water projects," San Diego 6 reported. It "called planning by the city's Public Utilities Department and the water authority meaningless if city officials won't 'pull the trigger' to implement their suggestions."

The city council took action shortly after the report was released. 

"[It] approved a $1 million expenditure to hire a consultant and stage a public relations campaign to build support for recycled water. The council also called for voluntary conservation measures by residents in face of the drought," the report said. 

The grand jury report criticized the city's approach to water rate hikes.  

"Historically, requests for rate hikes were routinely voted down by the City Council in order to look better to the voters," the report said, per San Diego 6.

"What have resulted are the postponement of water infrastructure projects, Band-Aid repair jobs and an ever-increasing list of problems with water delivery and wastewater management. The city's water decisions are guided more by political considerations than sound public policy that is in the best interest of the citizens of San Diego County," it continued.  

San Diego faces significant water infrastructure challenges. "Water main and pipe breaks have become a fact of life with the San Diego infrastructure reaching old age," ABC News reported

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer emphasized that the city's infrastructure problems are not new. 

“I'm never surprised at the backlog of infrastructure because of what the city did not do and should have been doing, literally, for decades," he said, per ABC News. "We’re doing condition assessments on all those pipes. It doesn’t do us any good to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

For more policy news, check out Water Online's Regulations and Legislation Solution Center.

Image credit: "San Diego Marina," newagecraps © 2007, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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