Water Report: Less Water in Basin Than Believed; “Seawater Intrusion Imminent”

By John Perry

A draft report prepared for the San Juan Basin Authority (SJBA) exposes new problems with our water supply. The draft report, prepared by Wildermuth Environmental Associates, indicates far less water in the basin than previously reported. Previous studies estimated about 40,000 acre feet of water in the basin. The draft report estimates around 20,000 acre feet as of 2012 (theoretical maximum storage is about 26,000 acre feet). However, the report also indicates that the basin actually has only 13,000 acre feet of recoverable water.

Wildermuth predicts that due to the plans to continue pumping water out of the depleted basin, seawater intrusion is imminent.

Our water plant is not capable of processing seawater; therefore the intrusion of seawater would not only cause the plant to shut down but would cause all of the other very expensive wells in the area to become unusable.

The proposed solutions are outrageously expensive and could drastically increase our already-high water rates.

Rainfall recharges the water supply, amounting to about 6800 acre feet in a normal year. According to the report however, planned pumping of the basin will exceed the recharge amount, causing depletion and lowering of the water level, exposing it to seawater intrusion.

Both San Juan and SCWD are expanding their groundwater plants to pump increased amounts. San Juan recently applied for and received another $5 million in taxpayer funding to expand our plant.

The report proposes a series of “alternative solutions” to sustain planned basin pumping, conditioned on when - or if - a desalinization plant will be constructed near Doheny Beach by the Metropolitan Water District (MWD).

A Look Back in Time at the Evolving Water Issue…

The first issue of the Capistrano Common Sense printed 3 1/2 years ago, was partly inspired by residents frustrated by rising water bills. The list below illustrates where we were at when we began reporting on the water issue, and where we are today. It’s also a reminder of what prompted the Capistrano Taxpayers Association’s lawsuit against the City as well as what our council members are doing about the high cost of water.

March 5, 2010  - “Drowning in Water Bills”

San Juan resident John Perry kicks off the inaugural issue of the CCS with an “Open Letter” to the San Juan City Council and City Manager about the runaway costs of the City water operations; “At the February 2, 2010 Public Hearing, the City Council sat stoically as residents berated their decision to increase domestic water rates by 78 percent over the next 8 years. Although questions were asked of the City Council by public speakers, no answers were forthcoming from our elected officials or the City's staffers. So it is time to ask some hard questions again…”

September 10, 2010  - “A Recipe for Overspending; The Perfect Storm”

In this article City Council members were urged to audit the Ground Water Recovery Plant (GWRP) to find out why we're spending $200,000 more per month to operate it than if we purchased the water from the Metropolitan Water District….

November 2010 - Change in leadership: Derek Reeve, Larry Kramer & John Taylor elected to City Council

January 15, 2011  - “In Too Deep...Water Bondage”

This article questions why our City Council voted to sell another $18 million in bonds to support the expansion of the water plant and to finance the pipeline system to distribute recycled water. This bond sale was in addition to the previous bond sales which amounted to over $72 million since 2002…

“If You Build It They Will Come…”


Organizations opposing the extension of the 241 toll road have stated that the Transportation Corridors Agencies (TCA)’s plan to extend the 241 toll road south in “segments” is prohibited. Apparently the South Coast Regional Water Board agreed, recently denying a permit to the TCA to extend a 5.5-mile segment to “Cow Camp Road” above Antonio and Ortega.

So what does this mean for San Juan Capistrano? In our opinion, this is a victory for San Juan residents who would have been subjected to even more traffic being dumped onto Ortega via the Cow Camp Road exit.

Research indicates that the Ranch needs the toll road extension in order to create “road capacity” to handle the enormous volume of traffic the new development will generate.

We find contradictory statements by elected officials like TCA Board member and

SJC Councilman Sam Allevato who claims that we need the toll road to relieve traffic congestion on the 5 freeway, while supporting the Rancho Mission Viejo Co’s planned development of 14,000 homes and 5 million square feet on our eastern border. If Councilman Allevato is so concerned about traffic congestion, why did he agree to waive our right to sue or even object to the traffic that will be generated by the Ranch’s new development? (see RMV Purchase contract at: www.ccsense.com).

Supporting a landowner’s right to develop their property is one thing, but not protecting your residents from its negative impacts is another.

Councilman Reeve Proposes City Partnership With The Ark of San Juan

The following two letters were received in response to Agenda item # J3 at the June 4 City Council meeting; “Consideration of a Formal Partnership between the City and The Ark of San Juan, Companion Animal Rescue” proposed by Councilman Derek Reeve.
The council is currently reviewing the proposal which as Councilman Reeve pointed out, will cost the City nothing but which will help the Ark of San Juan continue to save lost and abandoned animals. The Ark is the only all-volunteer, non-profit animal rescue organization in San Juan. 

Letter # 1 - Support 

June 2013

Dear Mayor Taylor, Mayor Pro-tem Allevato and Council Members Roy Byrnes, Derek Reeve and Larry Kramer,

Some may ask 'Who is The Ark of San Juan? Since the City contracts with the County for animal services why should the City partner with them?'

The Ark is a 50l(c)(3) charitable non profit organization formed in 2008. The Ark is volunteer-based, has no salaried officers or staff. Without a facility The Ark depends on foster homes or boarding facilities until rescued pets are adopted. They are the only rescue group in San Juan Capistrano working in conjunction with OC Animal Care to save our community's lost and abandoned pets. Since their formation The Ark has saved 400+ abandoned pets, thus saving the City the added cost of euthanasia at the County.

As an outreach to our community The Ark has begun a series of programs for the youth of San Juan Capistrano including presentations last month to Keystone Club youths at the local Boys & Girls Club and 'Good Dog Sense for Kids' to 180 third and forth graders at Kinoshita Elementary School.

Yes, Orange County Animal Care (shelter) presently provides animal service for our town and is doing the best they can; no complaints about their service. But sadly their time and resources are stretched between 18 cities and various unincorporated areas which they serve: Anaheim, Brea, Cypress, Fullerton, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove. Huntington Beach, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana (Shelter Service Only), Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Yorba Linda and various Unincorporated areas.

OC Animal Care's own full disclosure website* shows that they take in 30,000 cats, dogs, bunnies and other pets each year. No way! That's 2,500 new pets each month needing homes!

Despite OC Animal Care's heroic efforts to be proactive in placing pets by offering monthly adoption events and featuring impounded pets on the internet, the task of finding adoptive homes for 30,000 pets is monumental. OC Animal Care's website shows the reality of not finding enough homes for that many lost and abandoned pets:

Of the 12,000 cats impounded in 2012,74% were euthanized.

Of the 13,600 dogs impounded in 2012, 19% were euthanized.

The Ark of San Juan Capistrano is not asking for a hand out from the City. They are hoping for a leg up. It will be a win-win for both the City and our lost and abandoned pets!

Please vote Yes on this item. And all the critters on board The Ark said 'Amen!'

Thank you.

Yvonne Tschaikowsky
San Juan Capistrano resident
Volunteer for The Ark of San Juan Capistrano
* OC Animal Care website: http://media.ocgov.com/gov/occr/animal/about/default.asp

Letter # 2 - Oppose

Date: June 2013
Subject: Note From Tom Hribar on Council Item.

Mayor Taylor and Council Members:

Why Should The City Partner With ARP [sic] ? How About Partnering With The Open Space Foundation, The Boys and Girls Club, The Womans Club, The Historical Society, The Equestrian Coalition Etc. Etc. Etc.

Come On. No Way. The Next Thing Will Be a Dog Shelter in San Juan Capistrano.

I Challenge You To Tour The Orange County Animal Shelter as I Have Done. They Do a Great Job. The Internet Allows This Organizations to Do Their Job of "Adoption" Very Easily.

Who is Arp? What Does Their Balance Sheet Look Like? Do They Have an Office in Town? Lets Partner With Youth, Beautification of Our Town, Downtown Projects, Etc.!!

Please Vote No on This Item.

Thank You.
Tom Hribar
"Your High Performance Realtor"
RE/MAX Select One

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