San Juan Capistrano

City Hall’s Water Workshop “whitewash”; 
a costly PR event without answers

By Melissa Kaffen 

After attending the “Water Workshop” orchestrated by the city to allegedly answer questions about water produced by the Ground Water Recovery Plant, I came away with more questions than answers.

The event was coordinated in an “exhibit” style format, where you had to go from table to table to ask questions of employees at each “exhibit station”. Unfortunately, this format shielded questions and answers from the public rather than informing everyone at once. The answers I did get were lacking, which left me with the following unanswered questions:
  •  I understand that although we paid to build our Ground Water Recovery Plant (GWRP), we are only leasing it. Why?
  •  Who actually OWNS the GWRP? (I already know the answer to this; although we paid to build it, it’s owned by the San Juan Basin Authority).
  •  Is it true that the “Emergency water” from the plant will also serve three surrounding towns that pay none of the construction & maintenance costs?
  •  Isn't the GWRP defined as a “Regional Water Facility? If so, why are SJC residents shouldering the entire cost of a “regional” plant? 
  •  Wouldn't it be considered financial misconduct for any former or current member of our city council to ligate us to pay the entire cost of a Regional Emergency Water Facility? And if so, who made that decision?
  •  Why is the City adding chloramine to the GWRP water?
  • Isn't chloramine known to cause pinhole leaks & corrode residential water pipes? Is there no concern about the increase in pinhole and slab leaks in SJC as a result?
  • Doesn’t that expose the taxpayers to yet another class action lawsuit?
  • How many times has the plant had to be re-piped? Why & how much does that cost?
  • Will the plant need to be re-piped again?
  • What are the environmental hazards of depleting the ground water table; isn't it reckless to deplete ground water tables?
  • What happens when the San Juan basin is pumped to such a low level that barriers must be constructed to protect from salt water contamination? Who will pay to construct the massively expensive (up to $100 million) barriers?
  • Wasn't the plant supposed to be only an EMERGENCY SOURCE of water; not a primary source of drinking water?
  • Who made the decision to attempt to make the plant produce drinking water?
  • Are we in a water emergency? If not, why routinely use expensive corrosive ground water to try and produce drinking water?
  • What was the total amount borrowed against our water bills to build & maintain the GWRP bonds? Haven't we already exceeded the allotted funding?
  • How much of a budget deficit are we running now based on cost overruns and revenue shortfalls? 
  • How much did the Water Workshop PR event cost taxpayers in city employee pay and overtime? 
Melissa Kaffen has lived in San Juan Capistrano for 19 years with her husband and three children. Melissa is a former candidate for City Council and remains active in the community.

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