News

Pleasanton city council drops pursuit for potable water

The city will refocus on cleaning up PFAs in local wells

Pleasanton is no longer pursuing potable reuse as a water supply alternative after the City Council voted 3-2 to stop studying the matter with other regional agencies on Tuesday.

In addition to ending Pleasanton's participation in evaluating a regional potable reuse project with the Zone 7 Water Agency, Dublin San Ramon Services District and city of Livermore, among others, the council directed $300,000 from the capital improvement program that was earmarked for more potable water studies be used to treat hazardous per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Well #8, which is owned by the city and currently out of operation.

Councilmembers Kathy Narum and Jack Balch cast the two dissenting votes, preferring to fulfill "to honor our commitment and not renege" on the city's promise to the other agencies.

"I want to be clear that I am not in any way, shape or form ready to sign up for potable reuse," Narum said before voting. "There's far more to the study than just whether or not to do potable reuse or answer the questions about it. It's about making informed decisions and what does the science say."

"At this point, why would we not honor that commitment to our regional partners?" Narum asked.

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For the past seven years, the city has participated in numerous water policy roundtables and meetings of the Tri-Valley Water Liaison Committee -- which includes Pleasanton along with the cities of Dublin, Livermore, and San Ramon, as well as Zone 7 Water Agency and DSRSD.

Further study of a regional potable reuse project was approved in 2019, with Pleasanton, Livermore, Zone 7 and DSRSD all supporting joint funding for such efforts at the time. To date, all but Pleasanton have entered task orders for $250,000 each and shared costs of the studies.

Kathleen Yurchak, city director of operations and water utilities, told the council, "The thing that is unique about potable reuse is that we have local control over that particular water supply option. The Delta Conveyance, that is part of the State Water Project; desalination, we have to pipe and get the seawater into the valley, and then also sites reservoir is another infrastructure-related project we would be having to look at."

Mayor Karla Brown wondered why the city is "getting water that isn't as good as our neighbors" and said the $300,000 earmarked for potable water studies would be better spent instead on removing PFAs from local wells.

"If you have a brand new baby, do you want to feed that baby potable reuse water? I don't," Brown said. "(Residents) want quality drinking water and frankly, they deserve it."

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Brown added, "Isn't $300,000 a small down payment on $25 to $40 million to remove PFAs? I'm surprised anybody would say anything other than we need to focus on PFAs. This council has to focus on cleaning up our three wells and removing PFAs, and that should be priority number one."

Matt Maciel, who phoned in during the public hearing, said he was "extremely hesitant about using potable reuse."

"The ick factor is just there also -- 'toilet to tap' just does not sound like something I'd ever want to drink, and I don't care what the science says about how clean it is because there's always those unknowns," Maciel said.

Zone 7 Board President Olivia Sanwong said the agency has the ability to advance a potable water study and make decisions on its own.

"However, I personally really do value receiving input from each of our local retailers and partners, and especially value input from my hometown," Sanwong said.

"Headlines right now are forecasting extreme drought by the end of the century, and I think it's really important for the city of Pleasanton to continue with its commitment and be a team player and vote yes on the study to see if it's even feasible and viable for us to do potable reuse," Sanwong added.

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Pleasanton city council drops pursuit for potable water

The city will refocus on cleaning up PFAs in local wells

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Feb 3, 2021, 7:05 pm

Pleasanton is no longer pursuing potable reuse as a water supply alternative after the City Council voted 3-2 to stop studying the matter with other regional agencies on Tuesday.

In addition to ending Pleasanton's participation in evaluating a regional potable reuse project with the Zone 7 Water Agency, Dublin San Ramon Services District and city of Livermore, among others, the council directed $300,000 from the capital improvement program that was earmarked for more potable water studies be used to treat hazardous per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Well #8, which is owned by the city and currently out of operation.

Councilmembers Kathy Narum and Jack Balch cast the two dissenting votes, preferring to fulfill "to honor our commitment and not renege" on the city's promise to the other agencies.

"I want to be clear that I am not in any way, shape or form ready to sign up for potable reuse," Narum said before voting. "There's far more to the study than just whether or not to do potable reuse or answer the questions about it. It's about making informed decisions and what does the science say."

"At this point, why would we not honor that commitment to our regional partners?" Narum asked.

For the past seven years, the city has participated in numerous water policy roundtables and meetings of the Tri-Valley Water Liaison Committee -- which includes Pleasanton along with the cities of Dublin, Livermore, and San Ramon, as well as Zone 7 Water Agency and DSRSD.

Further study of a regional potable reuse project was approved in 2019, with Pleasanton, Livermore, Zone 7 and DSRSD all supporting joint funding for such efforts at the time. To date, all but Pleasanton have entered task orders for $250,000 each and shared costs of the studies.

Kathleen Yurchak, city director of operations and water utilities, told the council, "The thing that is unique about potable reuse is that we have local control over that particular water supply option. The Delta Conveyance, that is part of the State Water Project; desalination, we have to pipe and get the seawater into the valley, and then also sites reservoir is another infrastructure-related project we would be having to look at."

Mayor Karla Brown wondered why the city is "getting water that isn't as good as our neighbors" and said the $300,000 earmarked for potable water studies would be better spent instead on removing PFAs from local wells.

"If you have a brand new baby, do you want to feed that baby potable reuse water? I don't," Brown said. "(Residents) want quality drinking water and frankly, they deserve it."

Brown added, "Isn't $300,000 a small down payment on $25 to $40 million to remove PFAs? I'm surprised anybody would say anything other than we need to focus on PFAs. This council has to focus on cleaning up our three wells and removing PFAs, and that should be priority number one."

Matt Maciel, who phoned in during the public hearing, said he was "extremely hesitant about using potable reuse."

"The ick factor is just there also -- 'toilet to tap' just does not sound like something I'd ever want to drink, and I don't care what the science says about how clean it is because there's always those unknowns," Maciel said.

Zone 7 Board President Olivia Sanwong said the agency has the ability to advance a potable water study and make decisions on its own.

"However, I personally really do value receiving input from each of our local retailers and partners, and especially value input from my hometown," Sanwong said.

"Headlines right now are forecasting extreme drought by the end of the century, and I think it's really important for the city of Pleasanton to continue with its commitment and be a team player and vote yes on the study to see if it's even feasible and viable for us to do potable reuse," Sanwong added.

Comments

Joe Public
Registered user
Amador Valley High School
on Feb 3, 2021 at 7:52 pm
Joe Public, Amador Valley High School
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 7:52 pm

Thank you, Mayor Karla Brown and Council Members Valerie Arkin and Julie Testa for voting to stop putting the tax payer’s money towards the study of “toilet to tap” or the potable reuse recycled water. We need to put our taxes towards a more important issue in our town which is getting rid of the PFAS and other forever chemicals in our well water which have limited our drinking water supply by 10%. The voters in 2000 said no to toilet to tap! Let’s remember that the residents should get clean and safe water.


pope john
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 3, 2021 at 8:59 pm
pope john, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 8:59 pm

Good Decision!

Why can't the city of Pleasanton cut a deal with Hetch Hetchy water system?

It is right here in Pleasanton's back yard.


Dave Wilson
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Feb 4, 2021 at 8:12 am
Dave Wilson, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 8:12 am

[Removed because the same poster is using multiple names trying to appear there is more support for his/her opinion.]


Jocelyn Combs
Registered user
Pleasanton Valley
on Feb 4, 2021 at 9:35 am
Jocelyn Combs, Pleasanton Valley
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 9:35 am

I hope the City Council will reconsider their choice to pull out of this study. Studies are for information gathering and do not commit the city to making a decision. Staying at the table is important when other agencies are talking about our water. What may seem unacceptable now in terms of water quality may, years from now with advanced technology and decades of drought, be a reasonable option. More choices is better than fewer.


MsVic
Registered user
Mission Park
on Feb 4, 2021 at 10:10 am
MsVic, Mission Park
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 10:10 am

I think it is very short sighted to withdraw from the study. This is about more than potable water. This gives us a voice with other tri valley cities. This is about science and the study not about committing to toilet to tap. Our council is showing its short sidedness. Thank you Jack Balch and Kathy Narum for recognizing this is about more than just toilet to tap water! It’s going to be a long few years with thinking like this from the majority of the council. This is on the heels of another bad decision IMO. Review the videos of the recent meetings on the city web site.


Longtime Ptown Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Valley
on Feb 4, 2021 at 11:07 am
Longtime Ptown Parent, Pleasanton Valley
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 11:07 am

Wow. The majority of our Council just chose ignorance over education. I’m so embarrassed for them personally and for us as a town.


BobB
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Feb 4, 2021 at 6:42 pm
BobB, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 6:42 pm

Very short sited decision.


Diane
Registered user
Pleasanton Valley
on Feb 4, 2021 at 9:00 pm
Diane, Pleasanton Valley
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 9:00 pm

Potable reuse involves injecting water "desalted" with reverse osmosis - cleaner than anything that comes down the North Bay Aqueduct to Zone 7. We would drink it after it spends years in the aquifer. Think about what else percolates into the aquifer and there isn't much 'yuk' in reuse. We need to make full use of our water rights, ie. Well #8 if that is what it takes; but only potable reuse gives us new supply for the distant future. Every acre foot of water in Northern California is adjudicated ie. bought and paid for by someone.


Ben J.
Registered user
Birdland
on Feb 4, 2021 at 10:27 pm
Ben J., Birdland
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 10:27 pm

Those who applaud this are just as uninformed, aka ignorant, like those on the council. If you've been to Southern California, especially Disneyland area, you've showered, bathed, swam in pools and drank from reuse potable water. Orange County has the world's largest advanced water purification system for potable reuse.
Mr. Maciel, who called in, and Brown's baby remark sounds like something a five year old, who doesn't know much, might say if asked about something they didn't know. (Sorry five year olds.) Really, she was voted in as mayor? Glad I can say she didn't get my X on the ballot. Guaranteed she did zero research. Are we really that dumb as a community to vote these people in?
Apparently so...


James Michael
Registered user
Val Vista
on Feb 5, 2021 at 9:21 am
James Michael, Val Vista
Registered user
on Feb 5, 2021 at 9:21 am

It's a study to look at options to a water problem. What do they have to lose, it wasn't a binding agreement. I guess elections have ramifications now more than ever.

Aren't these the same people that are slamming the citizens into EBCE?

And on the question of water itself, why CA has a problem is ridiculous...we have the Pacific Ocean on our doorstep. We should have desalination plants. My God, we need leadership and not politicians.


Ndna Jnz
Registered user
Mohr Park
on Feb 5, 2021 at 11:38 am
Ndna Jnz, Mohr Park
Registered user
on Feb 5, 2021 at 11:38 am

Why should Pleasanton taxpayers pay $250K for a study, when residents have by far rejected the idea of potable water?
What about the unresolved issue for potable during summer months?
Since the time when Councilmembers Narum and Brown signed on to the study, Pleasanton has acquired a very serious problem in PFAS, which will be quite expensive to clean up. It makes more sense to spend the $250K on that issue, as Mayor Brown pointed out.
Furthermore, for those posting here who accuse councilmembers of not doing research, nothing is further from the truth. The scientific facts available now regarding the safety of potable reuse water point to many issues and questions. Look it up yourself.


Mica
Registered user
Alisal Elementary School
on Feb 5, 2021 at 2:42 pm
Mica, Alisal Elementary School
Registered user
on Feb 5, 2021 at 2:42 pm

If Pleasanton agreed to study it with other regional agencies, we need to keep with it. It’s like pulling out of the Oaris Climate Agreement. We are all stakeholders and can learn from talking together about shared info. Shows a weak character to bale at this point


Linda Kelly
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Feb 5, 2021 at 2:59 pm
Linda Kelly, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Feb 5, 2021 at 2:59 pm

Mayor Brown, councilmembers Arkin and Testa have not stopped to realize the astronauts traveling aboard the space station are drinking their own urine, sweat, and condensation from themselves as well as any animals that might be aboard at the time.


Craig
Registered user
Val Vista
on Feb 5, 2021 at 3:08 pm
Craig, Val Vista
Registered user
on Feb 5, 2021 at 3:08 pm

I see on the news that some municipalities are finding Covid 19 in their sewer water. So you people still want toilet to tap? I think not.


Ndna Jnz
Registered user
Mohr Park
on Feb 5, 2021 at 6:47 pm
Ndna Jnz, Mohr Park
Registered user
on Feb 5, 2021 at 6:47 pm

Astronauts? Space station? I was under the impression this discussion was more down to Earth. And why are you pushing potable so hard, Linda – do you have a stake in the required equipment?


Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 5, 2021 at 7:11 pm
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Feb 5, 2021 at 7:11 pm

FYI:

A new $23 million dollar toilet was recently received at the international space station.

Twenty percent of all water consumed and or lost on the international space station is sent by NASA from earth.


Mica
Registered user
Alisal Elementary School
on Feb 5, 2021 at 8:38 pm
Mica, Alisal Elementary School
Registered user
on Feb 5, 2021 at 8:38 pm

These posts show another reason(s) to continue with multi agency and city review together to get answers and share with the public


Linda Kelly
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Feb 6, 2021 at 12:22 am
Linda Kelly, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2021 at 12:22 am

Craig, I'm not pushing recycled potable. I believe at this juncture it is too expensive. I am pushing for the council not to alienate our neighbors and our water supplier by pulling monies they had already voted for twice, leaving those neighbors and supplier to pull funds from their own budgets to make up what we agreed to months and months ago. We agreed to finish the study, consultants have been contracted, they have jointly committed to doing it, and now we are saying, sorry. Money is already allotted for PFAS/PFOS clean up, both from Zone 7 and in our city budget, so there isn't a shortfall that needs bolstering by $3 million.

Ndna, it would be nice, but the answer is simple, of course not. Silly to suggest it.

Michael Austin, that means 80% is recycled. Icky water, according to some. I'm unaware of no harm resulting from it. We're trying to attract scientifically cutting-edge businesses to Pleasanton. If we, as a community are truly forward-thinking, then turning a blind eye to on scientific studies and exploration for future needs surely sends the wrong message.


MsVic
Registered user
Mission Park
on Feb 6, 2021 at 10:18 am
MsVic, Mission Park
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2021 at 10:18 am

Linda Kelly is right on with her remarks. Watch the meeting. And while you are at it watch the previous meeting where the council has now decided that you cannot add an ADU as a second story addition. This council is a mess - thanks Karla, Julie and Valerie for the shortsightedness on both of these issues. Now I am counting the days till we get to vote these three out.


BobB
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Feb 6, 2021 at 1:01 pm
BobB, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2021 at 1:01 pm

Ndna Jnz,

Linda Kelly is using a good illustrative example to remind us that all water we drink and bathe in recycled, as many have pointed out. Using this technology, as well as desalination makes all kinds of sense.


BobB
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2021 at 1:11 pm
BobB, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2021 at 1:11 pm

Ndna Jnz,

"The scientific facts available now regarding the safety of potable reuse".

Yes, and the studies show that it is safe.


BobB
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2021 at 1:16 pm
BobB, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2021 at 1:16 pm
Ndna Jnz
Registered user
Mohr Park
on Feb 6, 2021 at 1:19 pm
Ndna Jnz, Mohr Park
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2021 at 1:19 pm

BobB – I don't appreciate you taking my text out of context; what about the rest of that sentence?
And no, the studies do not show that it is safe. Please do your own research before making inaccurate statements – it makes you look bad.


Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 6, 2021 at 1:33 pm
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2021 at 1:33 pm

Another Tidbit:

There are no showers on the international space station.
Astronauts use wet wipes to clean themselves.


Ndna Jnz
Registered user
Mohr Park
on Feb 6, 2021 at 1:39 pm
Ndna Jnz, Mohr Park
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2021 at 1:39 pm

I stand corrected. Apparently, we ARE talking about the ISS. Ha! Did you know that the ISS...


BobB
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Feb 6, 2021 at 1:41 pm
BobB, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2021 at 1:41 pm

Ndna Jnz,

I would avoid using the phrase "do your own research", because it is frequently used by anti-vaxxers. They aren't doing scientific "research", they are just reading nonsense on the internet. You can look up many health studies published by reliable, verifiable mainstream sources regarding recycled drinking water, for instance:

Web Link

"... robust evidence that recycled water represents a source of safe drinking water ..."


BobB
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2021 at 4:22 pm
BobB, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2021 at 4:22 pm

Michael Austin,

Thanks for the information on the ISS. Very interesting!


Pete
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2021 at 4:55 pm
Pete, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2021 at 4:55 pm

Mayor Brown, Council members Arkin and Testa, Thank You...! PFAs are an important area of concern for all of us. How much water is pumped from wells in Dublin/Livermore that contributes to the 10%+ of water used within our Valley...? In any given year...? Drought year...? Pleasanton leadership senses to prioritize a concern that recycling may not entirely alleviate. Besides, Dublin/Livermore drains their waste/runoff through Pleasanton arroyos...you all can figure that out. Besides, we can only be five year olds for a short time.


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