Cambrian: Opinion

Letters to the Editor July 15 - 21

Long may she wave

T he flag itself is nothing more than a piece of cloth. It has no religious value, it is not a graven image — it is a banner, a standard. In the military, it is called “colors.” Colors are used to identify many things, but the red, white and blue not only represent the U.S.A., but to me it stands for so much more.

It stands for freedom and a way of life that so many men and women fought and died for and are still fighting and dying for so that we can continue to fly that grand old flag. Americans have carried our flag onto many battlefields around the world.

Every American knows that freedom is not free. It is only for people who are willing to make the sacrifice it takes to have it and to keep it. America is a land of give and take, but it is really sad to know that so many people in this country are not willing to give what it takes. They hide under the flag and abuse the rights and privileges it stands for, but they will not stand up next to it and defend what it stands for.

There are some people that will not fly the flag in front of their homes or businesses on Independence Day because they think it would be politically incorrect. That is an excuse that is used a lot lately.

In 1936, George Cohan was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for writing the songs “Over There” and “It’s a Grand Old Flag.” Too bad our politicians don’t have that same sense of patriotism today.

Why are we a free county? It’s written on all our currency — “In God We Trust.” When I drive down Main Street on the Fourth of July and see all the flags that the Sons of the American Legion have put up, it makes me very proud to be associated with such a great group of guys. They do so much for this community. We appreciate all that they do.

God bless America,

Don Campo Cambria

Water supply option

Perhaps those who object to the desalination plant on the grounds we have not investigated sufficient alternate sources of water may have a point. For example, we could petition for a decommissioned aircraft carrier that could supply a virtually unquenchable supply of distilled water.

The ship anchored offshore would certainly be a tourist attraction whose presence would aid our local businesses. In fact, it could be outfitted as a hotel to further enhance revenue.

The reactor could supply cheap electricity for the entire town. Additionally, the aircraft carrier would provide us with an airport, which we have never had before. All of this could be accomplished with no additional impact on the environment because the ship already exists.

John F. Ehlers Cambria

Rates wouldn’t double

Regarding Steve Figler’s letter to The Cambrian (July 8, “Just buy a house”):

Steve Figler’s assumptions about the doubling to quintupling of present water rates (paragraph five) appears to assume heavy desalination water use and doesn’t seem to take into account that the vast majority of water will still come from the 1,230 acre feet per year currently allowed to be produced from the San Simeon Creek and Santa Rosa Creek wells.

For example, if only 75 percent of our water comes from existing aquifers and 25 percent comes via desalination at five times current costs, the water component of our CCSD bills will double [.75(1) + .25(5) = .75 + 1.25 = 2]. However, that assumes that we will require 410 acre feet per year from desal (410/1,640 = 25 percent).

While that requirement is certainly possible, it would seem it would occur only under long-term drought conditions when we probably wouldn’t care so much about the cost doubling, but rather the uninterrupted availability of potable water for our household needs.

I can’t envision a reasonable scenario where 100 percent of our water will come from a desal plant that I understand could only produce about 600 acre feet per year at five times current costs for the creek wells.

Iggy Fedoroff Cambria

Aussie rates doubling

I strongly recommend that Cambrians read the July 11 New York Times article, “Arid Australia Sips Seawater, but at a Cost” (http://nyti. ms/aeFqY4 ). The more we know about the pros and cons of desalination, the better off we will be.

Some quotes from the article:

• “Many homeowners, angry about rising water bills, and environmentalists, wary of the plants’ effect on the climate, call the projects energy-hungry white elephants. Stricter conservation measures, like mandating more efficient washing machines, would easily wring more water from existing supplies, critics say.”

• “Almost every city which has implemented a desalination plant has nowhere near maxed out or used up their conservation potential,’ said Stuart White, director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney. ‘Even without restrictions, cities could easily save 20 percent of their water,’ Mr. White said.”

• “For households in cities with the new plants, water bills are expected to double over the next four years, according to the Water Services Association.”

Why, again, is Greg Sanders so sure rate increases from a Cambria plant will be “absolutely minimal”? They aren’t anywhere else. In his letter to the editor (June 24, “Desal cost factors”) Mr. Sanders backed his assertion with references to “federal as-

sistance.” But that money is not in the bank, and, in fact, seems to be teetering. He also says our plant will include a solar energy feature to offset the horrendous energy costs of desal. But will it? That’s an extra $4 million. Where is the extra four million coming from to build solar in a fog belt?

Here’s another quote that jumped out at me from the NYT article: “… technical problems that temporarily shut down the plant recently ….”

We all know that Santa Barbara’s desal plant is decommissioned. The Marina Coast Water District plant suffered erosion damage to its beach wells. The Morro Bay plant is undergoing a series of major renovations. Think those are anomalies? Google “Tugun plant,” and read about “Rusting pipework, cracking concrete, faulty valves…” and “Experts … crawling through pipes to pinpoint problems that the Government admits might not be fixed for months.” Or Google the $250 million Yuma plant: “It ran at one-third power when it opened briefly in 1992. Eight months later it closed, never to reopen, a victim of flood damage and engineering flaws.”

And Tampa Bay! How can anyone use Tampa Bay as an example of a successful plant? It’s had nothing but trouble. Read the article “More Problems for Tampa Bay Water Desalination Plant” and learn how dependable desal really — isn’t (http://bit. ly/9gDaq6).

At the last CCSD meeting, Mr. Sanders said, “By any yardstick, Cambria is in an overbuilt condition.” Yes, I know he meant in relation to our water resources. But consider this — If Cambria builds a desal plant, and then grows based on that promise of water, what we will do when our plant is too expensive to operate, or there’s erosion damage to our beach wells? Or we experience any one of a number of technical problems?

How overbuilt will we be then?

All this to spare us getting more efficient washing machines and drought-resistant landscaping. Seems a bit like using an elephant gun to shoot a squirrel. Only more risky for us. As opposed to the squirrel.

Catherine Ryan Hyde


(Editor’s note: According the city of Santa Barbara website, its desalination plant is “in long-term storage” and would be recommissioned when water demand cannot be met any other way.)