June 16, 1988
Board of Directors
East Bay Municipal Utility District
P. O. Box 24055
Oakland, California 94623
I would like to offer the following comments on your Water Supply Management Program Draft EIR of 4/88:
1. The purpose of CEQA (the law which mandates the EIR) is to protect the environment, by providing decision-makers with complete, unbiased information listing all feasible alternatives, so that they can choose the alternative that is most cost-effective in meeting the community's needs, while at the same time affording maximum protection to the environment, on which our lives depend. You have not provided an EIR, but a piece of propaganda calculated to favor only the most growth-inducing, environmentally damaging alternative. A number of facts demonstrate this: (a) The language you use is inflamatory, emotional language, rather than factual, scientific language: e.g. "severe rationing" and "intense water conservation measures", rather than simply "conservation". According to you, my normal, everyday lifestyle would be termed "severe" and "intense". It is neither, and I am certainly not suffering, as you would seem to be implying. (b) You tout a strong conservation program, although, as a customer of yours for the last 5 years, I have not been aware of any such strong program, other than an ad showing a hose that resembles a snake (relevancy?). PG&E has a REAL conservation program, which you should examine and emulate. They paid for almost all of the insulation in my house! "Since beginning its pioneering efforts in the early 1970s, EBMUD has had a proactive water conservation program leading the nation in water conservation education and the state in legislation" (from your OVERVIEW, April, 1988). This does not ring true. Have you educated people about low-flush toilets or 1-minute showers or suggested that they not wash their cars? NO. Have you offered to pay for new toilets or shower heads or drip irrigation systems? NO. (c) Your SUMMARY, April, 1988 does not list Conservation among the "Key Issues Affecting Water Supply". You obviously think conservation is a nuisance invented by extremists (like me?) to restrict our economy and lifestyle. If so, then you are simply not aware of today's ecological realities. I suggest that you read GAIA: An Atlas of Planet Management. (d) As pointed out by Earth First!, Director Skaggs is an attorney for Blackhawk. An attorney for one of the worst water-wasters (Blackhawk homesites include numerous golf courses) and environment-wreckers (Blackhawk destroyed a large area of wildlife habitat bordering on Mount Diablo Regional Park, including habitat for endangered species such as the Alameda Striped Racer) cannot be impartial, and should resign, or at least not vote on this issue. (e) It is just too much of a "coincidence" that the alternative you recommend coincides with the desires of all of the rich developers in Contra Costa County (e.g. Blackhawk) who bankroll the pro-growth elected officials (who have told me, by the way, that the environmental route would be "political suicide"). You say that the added water storage would "only be used in an emergency", but with all the development going on in the area, and pressure for more, this is not believable. (f) You make totally irrational arguments against conservation: "One effect of a long-term conservation program is to reduce the District's ability to respond to a drought with short-term demand reduction measures" (p.III-34). In other words, "Don't save water now, because then we won't be able to save water later, after we let development continue too far." (g) In order for your assertions to be relied upon, you should support them with EVIDENCE. You don't do this. For example, you say that an outage could last 13 months, but give no evidence (p.6-3). And you say that rationing would cause "long-term adverse impacts on the economy and lifestyle" (p.II-20), but offer no evidence. Personally, I have noticed no adverse effects on my own economics or lifestyle, so I would like to see your evidence. I don't have a swimming pool, but I do notice that those who do, rarely use them.
In short, you give every sign of being untrustworthy. If someone approached me to buy a used car, and used similar language and tactics, I wouldn't buy it. Neither would you, if the truth be told!
2. You say that a flood or earthquake could cause a 13-month outage. I find it very hard to believe that it would last this long. You call it a "reasonable assumption" (p.6-3), but you offer no evidence.
3. You say that a 71% reduction in water use would be needed to handle the 13-month outage (p.II-20), and that this would be, essentially, impossible. However, a 2-year reduction of 35% would take care of this, and a 35% reduction just happened last month, as a result of your call for a 25% reduction! Since conservation will OBVIOUSLY become essential in the future, as our population continues to increase, why not PLAN AHEAD, and institute it now? It can only improve things.
4. Your estimates of the savings provided by conservation (7 MGD) are far too low: we just achieved a 35% reduction over last year, for the preceding month. 35% of 270 MGD (your projected 2020 demand) is 94.5 MGD!
5. I cannot "buy" a need for more reservoirs, until conservation measures are FIRST put in place, and our needs re-computed. One-minute showers (where one doesn't run the water except when it is needed), water-less toilets, waterless gardening, drip irrigation of gardens, and bans on lawn-mowing (to increase the survivability of the lawns), golf-courses, and car-washing, etc. are all good things and would not impair our economy or lifestyle in any significant way. Without such measures, no cry for more reservoirs will be believable.
6. Scientists tell us (e.g., see GAIA:..., mentioned above) that destruction of our enviroment will destroy, or significantly degrade, all life on the Earth. And yet, the loss and disturbance of wildlife and endangered species habitat that these reservoirs will cause was not stressed in the EIR, and is apparently not considered very important. Loss of HUMAN habitat is considered important, but not that of other species. That is very shortsighted, as well as violating the law. A bioligist at Academy of Science in San Francisco laughed at me, when I asked why the Alameda Striped Racer couldn't be transplanted to another area, to save it. THESE RESERVOIRS WOULD DESTROY HABITAT, AND THAT HABITAT COULD NOT BE REPLACED! AND, OF COURSE, EXTINCTION IS FOREVER!
There are many other reasons why the reservoirs should not be built, but LACK OF NEED and DESTRUCTION OF OUR PRECIOUS NATURAL ENVIRONMENT are sufficient reasons.
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.
cc: Alameda County Board of Supervisors
Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors
NOT BE REPLACED! AND, OF COURSE, EXTIN