We sometimes hear that new development is going to make San Diego run out of water.
That’s not true, say city and county water officials.
The San Diego County Water Authority expects the county will have enough water to accommodate a growing population and new development for the foreseeable future, including major projects like the controversial One Paseo in Carmel Valley.
Yet, somewhat paradoxically, the short term may be a different story. At least a handful of public water utilities in San Diego County may stop issuing water meters or begin charging higher fees to hook meters up to the public water system. Those moves would complicate new development, if not stop some projects in their tracks.
In the long term, the County Water Authority still expects to have enough water to accommodate all the growth that cities expect, plus a cushion for unanticipated growth.
But in the short term, because of the drought and water restrictions ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown, some utilities may adopt policies that curb development or hike up project costs.
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RE: “Generally when you’re building closer in and the infrastructure is closer, it’s going to be using much less water than if all these people who are going to be living in One Paseo moved to the urban fringe and are going to have a McMansion,” Cosgrove said.
This is a silly Pro-Density statement, since once the piping that supplies the water is filled, where one uses water does not matter, unless the different location have much different weather (much drier). Providing more Density (many more smaller units) only encourages additional development, which will create many more new water users than fewer MCMansions, which will probably also get built, as San Diego grows eastward.
Another factor is that the more water we have in the system (think additional underground piping) the better it is since the system also adds additional secure storage.
Yes, I am proud to be a citizen of S.D. As a taxpayer, I work for them, you know. Following their orders, " Save water !", "Here's our newest and greatest plan to limit lawn watering and car washing." " Do you really have to flush sooo much?" "Now, don't complain when we approve hundreds, if not thousands of new housing units. Remember, you work for us.... just look the other way."
Man, are we stupid!
Here's a chart from the SD County Water Authority showing rainfall totals at Lindbergh Field for the last 50 years.
Saying that the drought ended in 2011 because we had 2.3 inches of over the average is absurd. I'm not sure how to define the end of a drought but I don't think that should qualify. Several years of above average are needed to end a long term drought. Of the 50 years in the chart only 18 were above average and most not by much. The last year we had a really good rain was in 2005 when over 22" was recorded.
"The city of San Diego, which uses about 40 percent of the county’s water, isn’t planning such restrictions that would curb new development, though it may have to curb demand by 16 percent this year."
So people currently living here will have to reduce usage by 16% to accommodate new development? How can you say that with a straight face?
If we were smart we would use as much water as we can because it would force the Gov't. To restrict additional Housing DENSITY and start adding new Desalinization Projects before any new water users are allowed!
The more water we "save" the longer the Gov't. will squeeze all of US by raising the price of our water and then spend the new additional money on other things instead of building new capacity.
Raising residential water bills is akin to our Government picking on all the little taxpayers while at the same time placating the BIG WATTER BULLIES, that also donate to our elected Leaders.
No more CA Residential DENSITY until we build more Desalinization, that will solve our Water situation without just raising the price of water for ever more residents. Big Water must also share in all reduction percentages if all of CA, not just Big Water's shareholders, hope to thrive going forward.
RE: Joseph Cosgrove is a sustainability research consultant who helped prepare a forthcoming report on water use and urban development for Circulate San Diego, a public transportation and pedestrian advocacy group.
BOTH Circulate SD and VOSD are little more than media propaganda mouthpieces pushing for Big Development that seeks to DENSIFY SD so that developers can profit from building ever more infill projects at ever lower costs to build their new high density developments with little to no parking. The CITY Planning Dept. is happy to play along because they are excited about expanding their tax base and having long time residents sell/move which will also increase the taxes since new buyers will be paying far larger taxes.
SD should not become another NYC or LA, despite what our Mayor and VOSD say. If you want NYC or LA then please move their instead of promoting for ever more DENSITY in San Diego.
Reduce new development and we will reduce our need for water, it is that simple, especially when those that have access to unlimited water are forced to cut backs equal to what residential users have already done. It is past time for BIG Users and/or Water Bottlers either start to limit their usage or pay larger taxes, which can then be used to build Ocean Desalinization that will sustain us all. To do otherwise, will only save BIG Water Users and all those that profit from controlling it.
@Founder I have to agree. I looked at all the articles that Ry Rivard has written and there is a clear pro-development agenda in all of them. I've noticed the same pro-developer bias in VOSD in general. I can't trust VOSD at all anymore, and only read it to see what the old guard politicians are pushing on us.
@Mystic Traveler @Founder Nice to see that someone else has noticed that VO$D is really nothing more than San Diego's newest PRO-Density media outlet; I bet it is just a matter of time before they start charging to post comments and/or moderating out comments such as ours, since we are calling them out for not posting balanced articles, instead of the Pro-Big Government, Pro-Charger, Pro-Density and Anti-Residential Solar articles they are now promoting.
I've shifted to the On-Line version of the SD Reader, because they are the only one I've found that still posts articles about what is really going on in SD:
I think that all of the recent media takeovers are just part of a well laid out plan to eliminate any media opposition to the New Order that is taking over San Diego by storm. We are now only just beginning to see the effect of zero local media coverage as SD's MSM shifts into fluff and glitz mode, just like FOX News.
Gone are the days of our local media calling elected officials to task, that is unless some other Political hopeful has enough Corp. influence to get MSM to endorse them.
The new motto for San Diego is: The Big Bucks Stop Here
A scant few miles from the proposed One Paseo development is reclaimed water aka "purple pipe." The acceptance of the development should be predicated upon the landscape irrigation being irrigated by this water source. This would allow local communities on both sides of Del Mar Heights Road to tie into the reclaimed water thus increasing the potable water supply.
@Johnny Pappas Why not also use the purple water to flush toilets and/or wash vehicles? Since all new construction should be designed and/or plumbed to make it easy to maximize the use of Purple water both inside and outside every home and business.
The article fails to explain what their "multi-decade" plans are. There is no way that the long term water supply will be sufficient, even if the drought ends, unless there is a tremendous expenditure of funds on new infrastructure. Such things as building more desal plants, creating more storage facilities and developing infrastructure to be able to reuse water cost lots and lots of money. The taxpayers will be the ones paying for these in order to service the development. Once again, using taxpayer funds to subsidize development
"New houses won't drain our water supply" This is what the headline says, but absolutely no real proof except statements by gov officials and developers, both of which are fed by development, as are many politicians (water board members). When the people who benefit directly or indirectly by development are speaking, one has to doubt whether they are doing a thorough risk assessment about San Diego County and water availability 5, 10, 20 years from now. And you gotta love them trotting out "It'll give our kids places to live." Your kids will live with you, will move into a tiny apartment shared by 2 to 4 people, will live in a sketchy area, will move somewhere else. Or you will help them buy a house. New homes are not going to be affordable. Heck, it now costs around $400 to $600K to live in 40 year old houses in Mira Mesa, which used to be affordable.
@Janet Shelton LOL. Looks like VoSD has yet another cub reporter who has no real background or expertise in their subject. Politics maybe. Water and land use, not so much. And what is up with these bogus headlines?
Anybody who has spent anytime in San Diego knows that developers and their mouthpieces like Laing aren't thinking 20 years from now. Your (and Don's) connecting the dots between developers and the water agencies shows that you have more insight, knowledge, and outright common sense about the subject than what VoSD is trying to pass off as "ground-breaking investigative journalism".
Have you ever played musical chairs? If there aren’t enough chairs for everyone, some people lose out; but increase the number of chairs to meet demand, and everyone has a place to sit.
Building enough housing to meet demand does lower the price of housing. Doing the opposite, preventing new housing from being built, increases the cost of all housing; even in Mira Mesa.
Actually, Mr. Rivard has shown that he is very knowledgeable on the subject of water and land use. My congratulations to VoSD for hiring him.
If Mr. Rivard has written any articles on water and land use prior to coming to VoSD, I'd be happy to read them. Perhaps you can give us some links. I'd also be happy to hear about his work experience involving either, or if his college degree somehow was related to what he's writing about for VoSD. Until then, my skepticism remains.
@Sharon Gehl @Janet Shelton The problem with that logic is that San Diego is a desirable place to a lot of people and if you build enough to lower the price, then more people can afford to move here and then you have to build even more. And it will attract more foreign buyers, more speculators. We've been wildly building whenever the economy is good for the 40 years I've live here and prices have only climbed over time. I bought my Mira Mesa house for $30K and it is now worth $450. Have wages gone up that much? I had a government job at the time which paid $16K. Today it pays $25K.
@michael-leonard Your comment about @msginsd is off base since he brought up legitimate points, something that VOSD frequently fails to offer its readers, providing instead just Pro Development cheerleading.
Want proof, why doesn't VOSD offer PRO-CON articles (HINT-HINT) where both viewpoints can be aired, along with comments from Readers for good measure, which would provide everyone with a well rounded discussion?
@msginsd Sounds like you may have ingested too much msg. The nasty isn't necessary, sir.
@michael-leonard @msginsd "Nasty" usually ID's someone that is only trying to shift the discussion to something else or belittle the commenter. VOSD would be well advised to moderate out such "replies" since they not only detract from what little discussion VOSD provides but they only encourage others to make similar "nasty" comments, that is unless VOSD really does want to further limit legitimate discussion.
How about an article detailing how the 24 separate water agencies in San Diego County were formed? In most cases, developers who wanted to build sprawl developments couldn't get existing water agencies to hook them up to the agencies water supply. So
the developers paid for political campaigns to incorporate a new water district, and packed its board with development shills. That may explain why the county has 24 water districts instead of one. Today, water agency board members who are elected get the bulk of their reelection campaign funds from real estate developers doing business in their districts. So it is not surprising that they issue water availability letters to developers whenever they are asked, regardless of the state of their water supplies. And its not surprising that CWA and local agencies take the position that we can still keep building thirsty new development projects in the middle of a long term drought. Just like other politicians, water agency board members are no about to alienate developers who are the primary source of their campaign funds.
Our children realize that they cannot afford to live in Carmel Valley. They went to Torrey Pines High School.
One Paseo would provide 60 low income houses. That takes care of 60 of our children. There are approximately 35,000 people living in this area. 550 homes would be in the $750,000-to the one-million dollar range.
Building more houses has not brought prices down. Fewer than one in five-thousand of our children would get low income housing at One Paseo. Many will rent as they pay off huge student debts. More will live at home with their parents. Others will remain underemployed or unemployed. Others will find only part-time employment at low-paying jobs.
It is typical that children raised in areas of high-priced real estate do not live where their parents did. San Francisco, New York, and San Diego are places where children of residents are unlikely to buy real estate.
Water will be reallocated from agriculture, livestock, and wildlife to support population growth. The economic impact is unknown. This cannot help the ailing economy.
If only building would solve all problems, even water shortages, I would favor unlimited building. Developers are happy to build regardless. Just ask them.
@Diogenes As long as San Diego continues to be a desirable place to live, home prices will continue to remain relatively high compared to other locations. We will never be able to lower prices substantially by building "cheap" high density housing. And as long as infrastructure maintenance continues to lag, our water, sewer, transit, and power supplies will fail to meet needs created by anything other than restrained growth.
It's worth reading the water authority report, possibly sitting beside a skeptical climatologist. What I've gotten so far is that the "we've got enough water" projection is based on taking two intermediate greenhouse gas emission models (A2, B1) running them out for 20 years, and then saying that the bigger problems start to happen after 2035, therefore we've got enough water for all the development right now.
It's good to know that we won't run out of water in the next 20 years under their predictions, I guess, but saying that there will be more people here when the bigger problems hit is also kind of scary.
Speaking as someone who couldn't move back into his childhood neighborhood without winning the lottery, I think Ms. Laing's pronouncement is hilariously hypocritical. Hell, during the depths of the recession we couldn't have afforded to buy our own house, which was bought pre-recession. The only new affordable housing I'm seeing is mandated by law. Even it seems to be predicated on the idea that people should be enslaved to their mortgages to afford a house. That is done by setting houses at the top of any conceivable price range to maximize developer profits. If we want a prosperous city where people could afford to spend money at all those new malls going up, housing prices have to come down. Since that will also damage people's sense of net worth (their home is their major investment after all), I'm pretty sure this will never happen.
Considering that I live in a suburb that has a huge immigrant population (both from outside San Diego and outside the US), I'm still extremely puzzled by the assertion that all of San Diego's growth is from new babies growing up here. Say what? Personally, I know three native San Diegans among dozens of people from all walks of life. Maybe as a relatively new immigrant, I'm socializing with "my people" and ignoring the huge population of natives who live here?
I'd also point out that we're not dealing with the whole demand hardening problem, only exacerbating it. Demand hardening is what happens when you increase water conservation and increase population simultaneously. At the beginning, it's easy to cut water to landscaping, let the lawns and playing fields go dry, drain the pools, stop planting trees, and all that. That will save about 50% of water. Problem is, the other 50% of it has to go for things like health and sanitation, which are much, much harder to cut. The more you conserve, the harder the demand is for what's left, hence demand hardening.
Where we are right now is cutting the non-essential water, and in a drought, that's the right thing to do. As Mayor Faulconer is correctly doing (and I'm a liberal, so this is forced praise), pushing hard for recycling waste water into drinking water is also the right thing to do. So is banking water from wet years for use in dry years.
The problem with pushing for dense developments during a drought is that a much larger proportion of their water needs are hard needs for health and sanitation. How do you go about cutting their water during a future drought? They have no lawns to go dry, no gardens to stop watering, no pools to drain. Yes, we can all go back to taking one shower per week, but even this is a stop-gap.
The only way to permanently deal with droughts, long term, is to stop growing population, recycle more water, and bank water from the wet years to use in the dry years. If we must grow the population, we have to grow it on the water we recycle, not by asserting that we can import more water from somewhere else. If anything, our imports are likely to decrease in the future. The solution presented right now gives us water for the moment, with more people at graver risk in 20 years. Is that what we really want?
@Frank Landis "The problem with pushing for dense developments during a drought is that a much larger proportion of their water needs are hard needs for health and sanitation."
Actually, the real problem is that people will move out of their single-family homes into neighborhoods like One Paseo which are more appropriate for drought conditions, and this will depress house prices in low density neighborhoods and turn suburbs into slumburbs. Is this a good reason to restrict people's choice and their ability to economize?
"The only way to permanently deal with droughts, long term, is to stop growing population..."
That would be true if demand for water were perfectly inelastic. How does eBay satisfy unlimited wants with limited resources?
@Frank Landis People in Belgium use an average of 115 liters (30 gallons) of water per person per day, without civil unrest. In San Diego, we use an average of 150 gallons per day. So it seems we could fit at least five times as many people inside San Diego's borders without resulting in civil unrest. Your concern is unwarranted at this time.
Read the article again. The author said, “…most of the region’s population growth will come from families who live here today.”, not all of it. “Families who live here today”, clearly means both native and immigrants.
Why all this fuss to protect water hogs with big lawns from having to change their ways? Don’t you like babies?
We’ll always have water in San Diego, we live next to the ocean; we’ll just have to pay more to process it. That will mean no more cheap water in the future for big lawns and nonnative landscapes that require large quantities of water. We can still have babies.
@Derek Hofmann : Well, one thing we don't use is classical economics. Only massive black holes get away with satisfying infinite wants. Mere mortals like us learn to do without and prioritize.
However, we can't do without (according to the UN) 10 gallons/person/day for drinking and sanitation (I suspect it's less when you're camping because the soil's taking the place of the water needed for a sewer). When you get down at that level, you get problems like civil unrest and forced migration. While we're nowhere near that line yet, there's good evidence that the Syrian civil war was fueled by people running out of water in the area where ISIL started, They may be stuck in the horrible situation where the war only ends when the population has fallen low enough to be supplied by the water they still have. I hope not, because it's not a fate I would wish on anyone.
To me, this isn't about the form of development, One Paseo or suburban sprawl, it's about saying population increases are inevitable and that this justifies everything else. Yes, we can support more people with less water, but we're at the end of the pipe. If the water coming through that pipe gets cut in half, whether by protracted drought, by an earthquake severing a pipeline, or by our upstream neighbors taking more water to unrest (as happened in Syria), we're in trouble. Uncritically adding more people means that we get into trouble sooner and more people are affected.
The one good thing is that we're not Las Vegas, bragging about how we're doing so well with 40% less water use while our major reservoir continues to go dry, nor are we Phoenix, stuck using our waste water to cool our power plant, so that we can't recycle that water. Right now, we're in a good place to try to come up with longer term solutions. Were I fantasy god-king of San Diego, I'd stall the current building boom until I could get water recycling facilities into place, then let new developments in as water recycling ramped up to support them. As it is, if Faulconer gets money to build a water recycling plant, I suspect it won't do much more than make up for the demands of the people who have moved in while the plant was being financed, planned, and built.
In the real world, I'd strongly suggest that water authorities use the grimmer models of climate change for their plans, not the average ones. The data to date seem to say we're on the A1 path, not A2 or B1. Planning for the worst is what they're supposed to do, because it's much better to have too much water than to have too little.
@Sharon Gehl @Frank Landis: I'm not protecting water hogs, although I think that having lawns that can die or gardens that can remain unplanted during a drought is a great way for a community to make sure it has a water surplus for hard times.
As for the idea that we're going to become a multi-generational city, that depends, I think, on increasing the number of local kids who can get local jobs and afford local homes. Our local universities are good at some things, but I'm not sure how good they are at producing qualified workers for local industry, despite the fact that this is what they were set up to do. Nor am I sure that we're producing homes that they can afford. What we are doing right now is making lots of expensive homes to lure in people with upper middle income careers. That's the group I belong to. It's hard to label the "Otay Ranch Village 13 Master Planned Community Resort Village" (an about 800 acre development) as affordable housing, and that's going through the EIR process right now (comments due May 22. I strongly advise that you read the documents, if you think that developers are building dense, affordable housing for the children of today's San Diegans).
As for the idea of desalination, it's great when you have a lot of cheap energy, because sucking the water out of ocean water is an energy intensive process. Unfortunately, we're only starting to figure out how to run desalination on solar power. Equally unfortunately, worldwide research on desalination and water purification dropped off about 80% in the last few decades, meaning that we don't really have many researchers right now trying to find more energy efficient desalination technologies, and the few new ideas out there are reportedly dangling on the vine, looking for investor money to try to scale up. All this adds up to a potential mess if we're not careful.
I'd point out that saltwater isn't the only resource with this problem. Nitrogen (N2) gas is 70% of the atmosphere, but it's chemically inert and takes a lot of energy to break into something we can use as fertilizer. Nitrogen is an essential element required for all amino acids in our bodies, yet without energy intensive fertilizer manufacture or equally energy intensive plant nitrogen-fixation (it costs beans a lot of energy to fix nitrogen in their roots), we'd starve. Being next to a resource pool we can't tap does not mean we're safe from future shortages of that resource.
@Derek Hofmann @Frank Landis Check again. That's how much water the Belgians are importing per person, per day, not how much they're using. During the depths of their 1990s drought, the Australians got down to 30 gallons/day, but they didn't stay there after the drought ended.
Incidentally, my house used about 70 gallons/person/day before the drought, and we've already cut way back, watering our plants with shower water and the like. I don't have a lawn either, and I've replaced my vegetables with native plants.
In East LA, the poorer households are using 40-50 gallons/person/day, as they are in the poorer parts Santa Ana. Meanwhile, people in Rancho Santa Fe are protesting that they need to be allowed to water their orchards on urban water, thereby driving city-wide per capita water use stats through the roof. If you detect a large class components to who suffers for the public good and who wants to be a conspicuous consumer, it's right in front of you if you look.
So yes, my concern is warranted.