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In The News

Details scant in Saltworks water deal

By Michelle Durand

The Daily Journal, 12/17/09

DMB Redwood City Saltworks announced yesterday it purchased enough potable water to supply its preferred development plan but will not say where exactly it is or how the city will transport it to the site.

The company owns enough water not only to provide a substantially greater amount to the project as described in the 50-50 Balanced Plan but potentially for the city’s other water needs, said Senior Vice President John Bruno.

Bruno would not disclose the purchase price of the water or its location. Transportation means would be up to the city but DMB will be involved in the process, Bruno said.

Redwood City Manager Peter Ingram was also at a loss for details about the new water supply but said the news is being taken as an amendment to the development application currently under review.

“What it says to me is that they think they’ve found a better way,” Ingram said. “Whether that’s true or not, I haven’t a clue. I have no idea where it is coming from.”

Ingram anticipates more details when evaluations of the application are posted by Jan. 15.

In the original application, DMB addressed the lack of a city water supply at the Saltworks site though a combination of locally grown water, conservation offsets and maximized use of recycled water, Ingram said.

The submitted plan calls for 50 percent of the 1,436-acre site on the San Francisco Bay to be preserved for permanent open space, public recreation and tidal marsh restoration and the remaining half be developed into housing, schools, parks and retail and transit facilities.

Residents and city officials have questioned aspects of the plan including transportation and water. Water fights in Redwood City are nothing new. In years past, sides squared off over the use of recycled water on athletic fields and for other non-potable needs.

Buying drinkable water for the Saltworks site is a sign the company listened to community concerns and responded, Bruno said.

“Water is obviously a concern,” he said.

One question now, Ingram said, is if getting that water to the site is plausible. But first things first, he said.

Right now the city’s consultants are assessing the application for thoroughness and then it can move forward on the content — including water — itself.

Similarly, Ingram said other questions and suggestions about how to evaluate the application may be a tad early.

In a Dec. 11 letter to city officials, David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, asked that the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy be used to look at the Saltworks project and its General Plan Elements on Resource Protection and Public Safety.

Ingram said he had not fully digested the letter yet but in general, environmental questions are left for later review.


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