Mayor Sanders has stopped shaving in the shower; altering his shaving habits, he says, saves about 25 gallons of water per day. “It takes a while to shave this big of a face,” Sanders joked during a town-hall meeting on water conservation at Memorial Academy in Logan Heights on Monday, September 29th.
Unfortunately, the mayor’s self-deprecating quip fell on few ears: most of the people in attendance were either with the media or part of the mayor’s entourage. The remaining contingent consisted of less than a dozen curious residents, many of which were children accompanying their parents.
The town-hall meetings are part of the City’s outreach program dealing with the region’s historical water shortage and the call for voluntary conservation.
After an introduction by Mayor Sanders, a presentation by staff members from San Diego’s water department followed.
The presentation addressed the region’s reliance on external water sources -- about 80 percent of the City’s water supply -- and future predictions that suggest an 11 percent increase in water usage by the year 2030.
“If we can get a 10 percent savings, then we might not have to move to mandatory restrictions,” said an official from San Diego’s water department.
After the presentation, the mayor returned to the podium for a few questions. One of the questions came from a man with two young boys in the back of the room. “I’ve seen the water rates rise two times since you’ve been mayor, and I don’t see any change in water quality,” the man said with a distinct Spanish accent.
The mayor responded by saying the City is applying for water bonds to continue construction on new pipes and to finish rehabilitating the City’s water-treatment system. “We are doing construction all over the city right now, and we have our bonding capacity back, so it will be cheaper to borrow money.”
Though the mayor is putting some effort into the water-conservation outreach program, some residents feel it’s not enough. At the meeting, two water conservationists with earthsourcemedia.org protested some of the policies supported by Sanders and the City’s water department.
They feel the move toward desalinization of ocean water is a waste of money and the City should instead focus on recycling the millions of gallons of wastewater dumped into the ocean every day and use it on lawns and for parkland...or focus on reintroducing more native plants to the area.
The concerned citizens also pointed to the poor turnout as a failure on the mayor’s part to address what they consider to be the most important issue for the entire state.
“You call this an outreach? Only 21 people showed and many were from the staff or from the press; 21 people, and this is the most important issue that faces California. This isn’t an outreach!”
To ensure the attendance at the next water-conservation meeting exceeds single digits, go to sandiego.gov/mayor/ for the meeting schedule.