New water plant site riles elderly neighbors and others in Escondido
By J. Harry Jones | November 9, 2016
in an Escondido retirement home are continuing to fight the
city’s plan to build a large recycled water treatment plant
next door to their complex, at the corner of Washington Avenue
and Ash Street.
representatives met last week with more than 100 people at
the Springs of Escondido retirement home to explain more about
the $29 million dollar treatment plant and why it must go
on the city-owned property.
The conversation didn’t go well. Many of the residents — some
in wheel chairs, others using walkers — said they’re afraid
they won’t survive the 15 months of noise and disruption that
construction of the plant would bring.
also said they’re worried about the chemicals that would be
stored and used at the plant because many of the Springs’
elderly residents already suffer from a host of maladies.
meeting was also attended by people who live in nearby homes
or own businesses in the neighborhood. All said they’re worried
that putting an industrial treatment plant in an otherwise
commercial and residential area could hurt their property
Springs is owned by Holiday Retirement, which has hired Escondido
land-use attorney Everett DeLano to fight the project. DeLano
said how the water plant will affect surrounding residents
and commercial interests should play a big role in whether
the citys Planning Commission approves the project at
a hearing scheduled for Dec. 13.
city-owned 4-acre parcel was not the first choice for the
water plant. Officials initially wanted to build it on city-owned
land a couple miles to the east on a vacant parcel sandwiched
between nice, newer homes. Residents there raised such a fuss
that the Planning Commission voted to deny the permit and
the City Council ordered its staff to find another location.
last weeks meeting, some residents said they felt their
neighborhood was chosen as the new home for the plant because
its less wealthy than the previous site.
Your construction will devalue this property so badly that
even the residents now living here will want to move the heck
out of here, said 92-year-old Norman Maxwell. Im
ashamed of all of you.
meeting was led by City Manager Graham Mitchell and Director
of Utilities Christopher McKinney, who talked about how badly
the plant is needed and said that all other possible locations
had been exhausted.
plant will essentially desalinate water that will be pumped
to it from the citys main treatment center on the west
side of town. That treated water will then be pumped to eastern
Escondido to be used primarily for irrigation of avocado groves
and other agriculture businesses. Many years from now, McKinney
said, the plant could be expanded to treat recycled water
and turn it into drinkable water, but such an expansion would
probably be 10 to 20 years down the road.
entire recycled water project will cost the city about $275
million, McKinney said. Although bringing the water to eastern
Escondido customers is a benefit, the real reason for building
the plan is to save money.
said said the city has outgrown the capacity of a fallout
pipe at its main treatment facility, which dumps treated sewage
into the Pacific Ocean. By adding the treatment plant and
sending the water east, the city wont have to replace
the fallout pipe at a cost of $500 million or more
money the city doesnt have.
also said it is unlikely the city could even get approval
for a new fallout pipe because of environmental concerns since
the pipe would have to closely follow Escondido Creek.
Thursdays meeting, 78-year-old Geri Teutsch, a resident
of the Springs, said the conversation was informative but
also depressing for many.
of us feel like we really dont have a heck of a chance
to change their minds, she said. You heard me
stand up and say you guys are more interested in money than
our lives here. They really dont have a clue about how
tough it is for us older people.
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