John Moore: Pure Water Monterey and the Potable Water Question

If you review the web page for Pure Water Monterey (PWM), it portrays the science involved in treating human sewage mixed with toxic agricultural waste to safe drinking water as both “innovative” and as “tried and proved science.” FYI, the water from the project will be a part of your Cal Am water as early as 2019.

It is certainly innovative because as admitted, it is a first try (ever, by any agency). But PWM relies on the sewage treatment process utilized by the Orange County Water District (OCWD) as similar and as proof of the health safety of the water to be produced by PWM and then sold to us by Cal. Am.
But the Orange water project is truly an Indirect Potable Reuse project authorized by California law. The PWM project is in fact an illegal Direct Potable Reuse, years away from studies that approve its safety as drinking water.
The Orange project uses the same state of the recycling technology as PWM but with important additions that justify it as an IDR. After recycling: it leeches through several basins for five years before use; it uses a tracer system on each batch of contaminated source water to prove the five year period; it tests for pathogens(bacteria, viruses, etc) on a continuous basis; and it has a full time laboratory constantly discovering new pathogens, chemicals and other items of concern to eliminate those health risks going forward. Micro-biologists, oncologists and disease scientists decry even the Orange county project because it can only eliminate the risks of pathogens etc after it has been discovered in the final product(via sickness and death). There are literally thousands of such pathogens etc. created continuously.
On the other hand, the PWM project is a poor attempt to qualify as an Indirect Potable Reuse based on an unproven critical fact. Under state law, one of the qualifications for an IDR rather than an illegal DPR is that after treatment the water repose in a reservoir, basin etc for at least two months. The PWM permit requires that it remain in the Seaside Basin for six months after treatment before it is transferred to the Cal Am wells to be used for drinking water.
But the PWM permit omits critical factors:  It did not require simple “tracers” to prove that the water removed from the Basin had been there for at least six months. Numerous variables can affect any attempted estimate via models etc. because the Basin is subject to numerous forces. Important is the speed of draw down by Cal Am-the more and faster it draws down-  the quicker the PWM water will flow thru the Basin. The quantity of water from other sources makes the flow faster or slower.Earthquakes?  And of course, drought. If it cannot prove that every drop of water leaving the basin for drinking water has not reposed there for six months it is an illegal Direct Potable Reuse. My point, “tracer” testing must be utilized to protect customers by proving IDR under current law.
Secondly, unlike Orange, the PWM project is attempting to recycle raw sewage combined with toxic agriculture waste and there is no similar example. How will Round-Up affect HIV, etc., for example? This part of the project is so crazy of a risk that the mixing must be prohibited.
Given the experimental nature of the project, the absence of a full time investigative laboratory manned with trained experts, not just for continuous testing, but like Orange, as investigators of unknown pathogens and chemicals so that any “disease leaks” are discovers ASAP, to make the system as safe as possible.
The leaders of the PWM project claim that they are working for our best interests. If so, why weren’t we allowed a vote. An election would have created a full discussion of the pros and cons of the proposal. Without an election, most citizens are not even aware of the project. Young families, renters et al, will leave the Cal Am area to protect themselves and particularly their growing children from the health risks of the water. Myself, I will purchase an expensive purification system($4000-$5000 based on Orange county costs), but I won’t drink it or cook with it; that will require more expense, water from a safe source.
As to the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and Water 1 Monterey, executives and boards who created this project, the citizens will never forgive you for not presenting this project for a vote (whether legally required, or not). Cal Am has told me that they will not provide an alternative source of water. The FDA has told me that the project is a “local” matter. I have tried.
John M. Moore
Pacific Grove

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