blocking water plant construction settled
J. Harry Jones, August 16, 2017
lawsuit challenging the Escondido City Councils decision
earlier this year to build a recycled water treatment plant
in the middle of town as been settled.
agreement means construction of the $33 million facility can
begin soon on a city-owned piece of land at the southeast
corner of Washington Avenue and Ash Street. Once completed,
the water plant will desalinate recycled water that has already
been partially treated, then send it though pipes to eastern
and northern Escondido to be used primarily to irrigate farmland.
Further desalination is necessary for it to be used on crops,
especially avocado trees.
Utilities Director Chris McKinney said construction of the
plant and the simultaneous laying of the rest of the pipes
needed to transport the water should begin by early next year.
would hope we can start delivering real water sometime in
the middle of 2019, he said.
farmers say the more affordable water will make it possible
to continue operating their businesses.
lawsuit was brought on behalf of The Springs of Escondido,
a retirement home located just 10 feet from the eastern boundary
of the 4.5-acre property.
exchange for dismissal of the claim, the city has agreed to
pay the retirement homes owners $40,000 and to abide
by a number of conditions designed to minimize the impact
the construction and operation of the water facility will
have on the centers senior residents.
conditions include the construction of a 50-foot landscaped
buffer zone between the retirement home and the property and
an agreement not to build anything within 100 feet of the
retirement home that is taller than 35 feet.
city also agreed to design the buildings to look less like
an industrial facility and more like businesses appropriate
to the neighborhood, the Springs attorney, Everett DeLano,
year, the city was planning on building the plant further
east on a city-owned property near the intersection of Washington
Avenue and El Norte Parkway. But residents of the entirely
residential neighborhood surrounding the property complained
and the council agreed to find another location.
of the new site was met with objections from the 100-resident
Springs center as well as from nearby business owners who
said such a facility would do nothing to grow their revenues.
Residents in the area also said they didnt want a plant,
which uses chemicals to treat the water, near where they live.
said his client knew it would be difficult and expensive to
win a lawsuit that could force the city to find yet another
location and decided it made more sense to accept the compromises
and remain on good terms with the city.
Senior City Attorney Adam Phillips said in a statement the
city is pleased that an amicable solution was reached
that works for both parties and that the project can move
of the plant is important to the city. The fact that it will
provide affordable water to farmers is a bonus, but the main
reason is to potentially save the city as much as $1 billion.
used by Escondido residents and businesses ends up in the
city sewers that carry it to a treatment plant on the west
side of town. After the water is partially treated, some goes
to irrigate golf courses, parks, city medians and other places,
but theres too much water for those limited uses. The
majority is dumped into an outfall pipe that stretches from
Escondido all the way to the ocean following the Escondido
the city has continued to grow, the outfall pipe is nearing
its capacity and, if something isnt done, it will have
to be replaced with a larger one. Such a project could cost
up to $1 billion.
greatly expanding its recycled water program the city can
divert enough water to make replacement of the outfall pipe
unnecessary, McKinney said.