Thanks to calls, letters, and compelling public testimony, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) has delayed approval of a recycled water project that would benefit the controversial Sharp Park Golf Course.
The SFPUC was asked to give its General Manager authority to negotiate a recycled water delivery contract with San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department. The contract would deliver recycled water from a treatment plant in Pacifica to Sharp Park Golf Course.
As currently proposed, three-quarters of the recycled water from the treatment plant would be delivered to Sharp Park Golf Course. But since the golf course may not persist, the current proposal jeopardizes the long-term feasibility of the recycled water project: if the SFPUC cannot find alternative customers for this water, the project could become infeasible and set a bad precedent for future recycled water projects.
The Wild Equity Institute and other environmental organizations argued that the Commission needs to provide opportunities to deliver the water to other users before locking-in contractual agreements for a golf course that may not exist.
During the hearing, the SFPUC General Manager suggested that distributing this water to a diverse user base may be cost prohibitive. But this is contrary to the conclusions reached in the environmental review documents prepared for the recycled water project, which states “[i]f Sharp Park’s use as a golf course were to cease, recreational use of the property would still require water for irrigation purposes . . . . If the needs for the project change as planning progresses, the North Coast County Water District (District) and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) will make necessary changes to the project.”
The SFPUC will now wait for the Recreation and Park Commission to take the lead on the contract, perhaps as soon as the Recreation and Park Commission’s October 21, 2010 public meeting.