Escondido, CA

Appeal of water treatment plant location set for Jan. 11

The Escondido City Council January 11 will hear an appeal of the December 13 Planning Commission approval of a conditional use permit for a proposed Membrane Filtration Reverse Osmosis (MF/RO) plant that would provide treatment for reclaimed water to make it suitable for agricultural use. The plant would be located at the corner of Ash Street & Washington Avenue on city-owned land.

The purpose of this water plant is for the distribution and sale of water to San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Eagle Crest Golf Courses, Oak Hill Memorial Park, agricultural facilities and other industrial purposes.

Currently recycled water is produced at the city’s Hale Avenue Resources Recovery Facility (HARRF). The new plant would add another level of treatment to the water.

The 2.0 million gallon per day plant, which could be expanded to 3.0 MGD if necessary, was first proposed for a 3.25- acre City-owned parcel at 2512 East Washington Ave. The Planning Commission last spring voted to deny a Conditional Use Permit for that location. The city council eventually told the Planning Division to find another location for the plant.

The Utilities Department staff then identified another city-owned parcel, this one at the intersection of Ash Street & Washington Avenue. On December 13, Escondido Planning Commission approved Case 2016-0014 for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). Council member Olga Diaz filed an appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of the CUP.

There was considerable opposition from residents of a senior living complex that would be next door to the proposed MF/RO plant and from members of the surrounding neighborhood.

Many of those who attended the meeting disagreed with the commission’s vote and with the city’s finding of a Mitigated Negative Declaration, which means that the city said an environmental impact report on the project wasn’t needed. The residents also criticized the city for failing to fully analyze alternatives to the site, and said they fear use of hazardous substances at the plant as well as traffic congestion. They also expressed fear that the plant would hurt property values.

The City Council hearing on the MF/ RO project will be January 11. The meeting will be held in the Mitchell Room because City Council chambers will be undergoing renovation at that time.

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