Escondido water plant hearing set for Wednesday
By J. Harry Jones| January 7, 2017
controversial plan to build a large recycled water treatment
plant at the corner of Washington Avenue and Ash Street will
come to a head Wednesday when the Escondido City Council is
tasked with making a final decision.A month ago the citys
Planning Commission unanimously approved the city utilities
departments request to build the plant despite objections
from people who live in the area, including many elderly residents
of a retirement home next door.
reverse-osmosis plant will take water that has already been
partially treated at the citys facility in western Escondido
and, using various chemicals, be further desalinated to make
it usable for agriculture. The water will then be piped to
eastern Escondido and the San Pasqual Valley for use in avocado
groves and elsewhere. Farmers have long looked forward to
the treated water because the high cost of using potable water
on crops makes it difficult to turn a profit.
year the plan was to build the plant a couple miles further
east on a city-owned plot in a residential neighborhood close
to the intersection of El Norte Parkway and Washington, however
those plans were scrapped after residents raised a huge fuss,
convinced the planning commission to vote it down, and then
convinced the council not to bother hearing an appeal. Instead
the council ordered staff to find a new location.
Olga Diaz and an attorney representing more than 100 residents
of The Springs of Escondido retirement community, next door
to the site, requested the decision be appealed to the council.
Everett DeLano has urged the council to deny the project based
upon sound principles of land use and in response to services
required by the community. He told the council in a
letter the plant will cause a deterioration of bordering land
uses and will be detrimental to the community and neighborhood
plans previously outlined by the city.
detractors would rather see the plant be built closer to the
existing water treatment plant, perhaps on land currently
being used as a public works storage yard an area the
council has hoped would one day turn into a high-tech business
McKinney, the director of utilities for the city, has said
that while providing water to eastern Escondido farmers is
a benefit of the plant, the main reason for constructing it
is to diminish the amount of water that must be dumped into
outfall pipe that takes Escondidos used water to the
sea is nearing capacity. To replace it could cost a billion
dollars or more, he told the commission on Dec. 13. The plant
will eliminate the need to replace the pipe by diverting great
amounts of water for other purposes. It is also possible that
a decade or more from now the plant will double in size in
order to turn recycled water into drinkable water.
designed now, the plant would occupy only half of the city-owned
vacant lot at Washington and Ash, the half closest to Ash
Street. The Springs retirement home is located to the east
and would be hundreds of feet away.
residents there have said the noise from the construction
of the plant will disrupt their lives. Many have health issues
and some worry the noise and disruption might kill them. They
also worry about the chemicals that will be stored and used
in the desalination plant. The city has assured them there
will be no smell and no risk to pubic health.
owners and other residents in the neighborhood have also complained.
They would rather see new commercial uses for the lot, or
perhaps a mixed residential and commercial development. A
water plant, they said, will do nothing to spur economic development
in the area.
December, Planning Commission Chairman Jeffrey Weber said
he was supporting the project because I think this new
facility is an integral part of our water system and for the
greater good of the city.
also said a quiet, odorless treatment plant would be a better
option and neighbor for the The Springs residents than just
about any other use.
meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the council chambers,
201 N. Broadway.
760/529-4931; Twitter: @jharryjones