Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008 | If San Diego residents are freaked out about using purified sewage as a drinking-water source, you wouldn’t have known it Monday.
For all the talk about a populace that’s grossed out by the yuck factor of an idea derided as “toilet-to-tap,” just 13 people showed up Monday to voice concerns that the City Council was moving forward with the plan.
At a public hearing to consider a water rate increase to fund a pilot study of recycling sewage, just two opponents invoked that pejorative moniker. Ironically, it was the project’s proponents who more frequently recited the laundry list of concerns and misconceptions about the safety of recycling sewage.
The council delayed action on the increase until Tuesday because Councilwoman Donna Frye was out sick. But when she returns, the increase has the five votes needed to be approved on a council that has five members who’ve supported the technology. (Frye, Toni Atkins, Ben Hueso, Jim Madaffer and Scott Peters have all voted to advance it.)
The project’s only hurdle has been the potential public outcry. On Monday, the outcry was little more than a whimper. Bruce Reznik, executive director of San Diego Coastkeeper, a proponent, described it as “sort of a dud.”
As required by law, the city mailed notices of the rate increase to its 275,000 customers, allowing them the opportunity to protest. (A majority opposing the increase can block it.) Just 5,757 people — two percent of customers — protested the rate hike to fund the study.