Almanac

Viewpoint - April 2, 2014

Letter: Golf course well not a good choice

Last week the Environmental Quality Commission for the fourth time in three years wrangled with the Sharon Heights Country Club's "non-project" application to dig a well in a Menlo Park public park that will extract water from the aquifer to be pumped up to the club for the purpose of watering the club's golf course.

The commission was heroic in its efforts to once again understand the complicated impacts of using water from the aquifer, the city's history of water usage, the recharged rates of using water from the aquifer, the history of the club's use of the aquifer for irrigation, and the reasons it switched to Hetch Hetchy water. On and on.

All this for a "non-project." City staff gave a presentation with slides and answered numerous questions as well as anyone could do, considering the limited time staff is allowed to spend on a "non-project." It appeared that staff was carrying the club's water at the presentation.

This process is upside down. If Sharon Heights Country Club applied for an actual permit the council might have directed staff to retain a consultant with water policy expertise that could have organized a presentation for the council and public before burdening a volunteer commission with an issue that was not even on this year's goal setting.

Once again, residents took the time to attend the meeting and once again all opposed this idea. In all the EQC meetings regarding this idea, no residents have supported the club's plan.

The city needs an emergency well. The city has been instructed by BAWSCA to reduce its use of Hetch Hetchy water. If our parks need water, the city can dig a well and use ground water for irrigation. However, when a private club pays for the construction of a well in a private park for its use, the city is married forever to this club. It's a private well and ending the relationship could result in a lawsuit against the city.

Don't go down this road. It's wrong for so many reasons. Concentrate on the city's need for emergency wells and maybe use some of the water for Burgess Park. The city needs a policy on water and an understanding of how every development it approves carries with it the issue of providing water for it and sewage from it. The two current developments on the city's radar include approximately 800,000 square feet of development. The water for these developments should be considered before water for the Sharon Heights Country Club.

Brielle Johnck Central Avenue, Menlo Park

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