Recycled Wastewater Plan Scrapped
Redwood City Residents Objected

Ryan Kim, Chronicle Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 5, 2003
San Francisco Chronicle

Redwood City officials bowed to public pressure and decided against a plan to use recycled wastewater for landscaping.

In a 5-2 vote Monday night, the City Council agreed to make any future residential use of recycled water voluntary, reversing a plan that would have led to the largest use of treated water in a Bay Area residential area.

The plan, devised by the city's Public Works Department, called for supplying irrigation water to public parks, commercial sites, and more than 3,600 Redwood Shores condominiums east of Highway 101.

Council members who voted against the plan said they felt uncomfortable forcing the decision on residents, who were fearful of the long-term implications of using recycled water despite assurances by health officials.  Others said they wanted to re-establish trust with suspicious residents who felt the city wasn't listening to them.

"This was important to get the issue cleared up and relieve some anxiety," said Vice Mayor Jeff Ira.

Redwood Shores residents, who had protested against the plan for months, were pleased with Monday's vote and vowed to help the city in its water conservation efforts.

"I'm surprised and ecstatic that the city took a leadership role to keep this ordinance from being mandatory," said Ray Wang, president of the Regatta homeowners association in Redwood Shores, which would have been required to use the recycled water.

The plan was aimed at reducing the city's dependence on San Francisco's Hetch Hetchy water system.  The city uses more water than it is entitled, and in a drought year, the city could incur up to $5 million in fines, officials said.

Ira said unless the city found new water sources, it would not be able to approve larger developments including an expansion of Kaiser Permanente Medical Center.

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