Kelly Cousins, Pleasanton

Mayor Brown and Councilmembers Arkin and Testa rejected spending $300,000 of city funds to study and market ‘potable reuse’ water (also known as toilet-to-tap).

On a 3:2 vote at the Feb. 2 city council meeting, the mayor reminded others about an advisory vote in 2000, when Pleasanton voters strongly rejected programs for ‘potable reuse.’ The no vote carried by a margin of 72%, with only 28% in favor of the controversial water program. Additionally, the city’s guiding document, the General Plan, prohibits using of potable reuse in our drinking water.

Finally, the cost of this type of water is estimated to be four times higher than current water supplies.

Clean and safe water is a major concern to people who live in Pleasanton. Residents derive their drinking water from several sources, including Zone 7 and the city’s three water wells, including Well #8, which has been decommissioned due to testing that uncovered low levels of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Bringing well #8 back to production will be expensive.

In response, the council majority voted to divert the $300,000 toward the engineering design studies to remove PFAS from the city’s well. The city wells are being closely watched and tested regularly.

With expanding populations here in the Tri-Valley, plus unpredictable weather patterns, the need for additional water sources will continue to be a focus for the city and for Zone 7. Some alternatives for additional water are expensive and can take decades before water is available, such as constructing new storage dams, ocean water desalination, intertie connections to existing water supplies in other communities, and piped water from the mountains via the Delta Conveyance. A list of acceptable diversified water sources should be considered.

Some water agencies with limited alternatives are focusing on the risky option of injecting potable reuse water (toilet to tap) into underground aquifers.

There is no inexpensive option to provide Pleasanton with more water, but clean and safety water must be our top priority. Potable reuse water according, to city reports, has a price tag of more $222 million for the capital equipment alone, and the cost of cleanup of PFAS in one well is estimated to range from $25 million to $40 million.

This is a critical issue, and the solutions are complex and expensive. Pleasantonvoters.com will be tracking this important topic, and we will provide new information as it becomes available.