Saylor Carries Water For West Yost

Sunday’s Davis Enterprise reports on the latest in a series of discussions and hearings on the city of Davis surface project.

The Vanguard has discovered that Davis City Councilmember Don Saylor, has accepted campaign contributions from a firm that has a contract to do business with the city of Davis on the highly expensive and volatile issue of water.

The city is in the process of examining a new wastewater treatment system and creating a diversion from the Sacramento River to supply the city with water. Both of these projects at this point in time would cost at least $150 million each or in other words over $300 million and likely those costs will only grow.

For a full discussion of the history of this issue please see this article, Tracing the recent history of the water supply project.

During the course of the last five years, the city has slowly moved away from a joint project with West Sacramento with water augmented from deep well aquifers, to a new water bypass, a project now in the works in conjunction with the city of Woodland and UC Davis.

Just five years ago, that plan had been dismissed as the most expensive and prohibitive financially.

But the council majority has since taken the view that this project is necessary to insure quality water to Davis and also has suggested that our stake in the project necessitates us moving forward at this time for fear of losing our place in line if we delay.

On Tuesday, the city of Davis will vote on whether or not to certify the EIR. Each step in this process moves the project closer to a fait accompli even though there has to date not been a straight up or down vote on even whether this is the strategy that the city ought to pursue.

The stakes here are enormous however. The cost of the two projects being completed at the same time would mean an extremely large increase to the residents of Davis in their water rates.

Mayor Sue Greenwald has maintained that while it is clear that we need to implement the wastewater treatment facility in order to insure that our water discharge meets state and federal standards, the timing of the water supply project could be delayed in order to protect thepocketbooks and wallets of ratepayers in the city.

On the other side of the coin has been Councilmembers such as Don Saylor who have led the way in cheerleading and supporting this project.

City Councilman Don Saylor said the river water project would “improve the water quality and it will give our city and the future generations of people who live here a more reliable source, both in terms of supply and quality.

“It will lessen the cost of the treatment needed for wastewater disposal,” he said, “and it will ensure an ongoing supply of water.

“I think this is a key set of decisions for our community at this point in time in our history,” he said, “because we must ensure a reliable, reasonable-quality water source for future generations. I think this is beyond politics. It is a matter of being responsible stewards of our community’s future interest.”

The Enterprise article is surprisingly balanced quoting from two experts from UC Davis, Professors Jay Lund and Ed Schroeder, both of whom questioned the urgency and necessity of the project.

However, the key supporter of this project is Councilmember Don Saylor.

Councilmember Saylor’s support however draws attention to a couple of his key financial and other campaign supporters.

At his announcement party earlier this year, Don Saylor was featured in a picture next to Jeff Pelz and Bruce West of West Yost Associates.

West Yost and Associates has served as the chief consultants for the city on the water project. In May of 2004, the city added to an existing consultant agreement with West Yost and Associates for the Water Supply Feasibility Study. On July 15, 2005, the council approved an MOU to complete a Project EIR report and authorizing West Yost and Associates to provide engineering services in support of the Project environmental process.

In addition to attending his party, Jeff Peltz is listed as a $100 to Don Saylor’s reelection campaign as is the firm he works for West Yost and Associates itself.

So now you have a major consulting firm that is in charge of doing work on one of the most expensive projects in the city’s history has been contributing to the reelection of their chief supporter on the city council.

To me this appears to be a conflict of interest. Don Saylor has accepted money for his campaign from a company that has a contract with the city. For the sake of ethics and propriety it would seem like Don Saylor should to recuse himself from deliberating on this issue. That is the only way that the citizens of Davis can insure that their leaders are not accepting quid pro quo campaign contributions from vendors who seek in exchange favorable public policy decisions for themselves and their firms. Employees and their firms who do business with the city of Davis should not be solicited by or contributing to the financial campaign coffers of city councilmembers who have the final say as to whether these firms are awarded contracts with the city. This is a clear eithical and financial conflict of interest.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Water

104 comments

  1. One of the most important statements in the EIR is the section on the need to Reduce Salt Load in Wastewater Discharge.
    Here is that section:

    The Central Valley Regional Water Board (CVRWCB) is enforcing limits set forth in the Water Quality Control Plan (Basin Plan) Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Basins (CVRWCB, 1998). To implement the Basin Plan objectives, the CVRWCB has established limits on electrical conductivity in treated wastewater effluent. These limits are requiring wastewater dischargers to take steps to reduce salinity concentrations in their treated effluent. Additionally, the CVRWCB is currently developing a Central Valley drinking water policy, which is expected to be adopted by 2009. A current factsheet describing this effort is posted to the CVRWCB website at:
    http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralvalley/cv-salts/progs-polic-rpts/index.html.

    A primary objective of the Project Partners is to reduce the TDS levels in their water supplies as a
    means of reducing wastewater effluent salt loads in an economically feasible manner. Wastewater treatment processes, such as reverse osmosis (RO), that would remove salts from the wastewater prior to discharge are very costly and considered to be economically infeasible. RO treatment systems would also require collection, storage, and disposal of large quantities of saline brine that would be produced as a RO wastewater treatment by-product.

    Currently, the City of Davis, the City of Woodland, and UC Davis together discharge about
    13 million gallons of treated wastewater each day (mgd). Over the course of a year, this
    wastewater contains more than 49 million pounds of dissolved salts directly derived from the
    groundwater supply. Water softeners and other commercial activities further increase the
    amount of salt that is discharged. For example assuming 2002 water softener efficiencies, for
    every pound of hardness removed from the water supply by residential water softeners, over
    6 pounds of salt would be added (Karajeh and King, 2005 ). The additional salt from water
    softeners is conveyed to the Project Partners’ WWTPs and eventually discharged into
    receiving waters. The total amount of salt equals 14.9 million pounds per year discharged from the Project Partners’ WWTPs. Substituting treated surface water from the Sacramento River for a substantial portion of existing groundwater supplies would decrease the amount of salt in the discharged wastewater effluent of each Project Partner by up to 70 percent. This would be accomplished by reducing the amount of salt and hardness in the water supply. This would provide the Project Partners with a sensible and cost-effective strategy for reducing the
    salt loads in their treated wastewater effluent.

  2. One of the most important statements in the EIR is the section on the need to Reduce Salt Load in Wastewater Discharge.
    Here is that section:

    The Central Valley Regional Water Board (CVRWCB) is enforcing limits set forth in the Water Quality Control Plan (Basin Plan) Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Basins (CVRWCB, 1998). To implement the Basin Plan objectives, the CVRWCB has established limits on electrical conductivity in treated wastewater effluent. These limits are requiring wastewater dischargers to take steps to reduce salinity concentrations in their treated effluent. Additionally, the CVRWCB is currently developing a Central Valley drinking water policy, which is expected to be adopted by 2009. A current factsheet describing this effort is posted to the CVRWCB website at:
    http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralvalley/cv-salts/progs-polic-rpts/index.html.

    A primary objective of the Project Partners is to reduce the TDS levels in their water supplies as a
    means of reducing wastewater effluent salt loads in an economically feasible manner. Wastewater treatment processes, such as reverse osmosis (RO), that would remove salts from the wastewater prior to discharge are very costly and considered to be economically infeasible. RO treatment systems would also require collection, storage, and disposal of large quantities of saline brine that would be produced as a RO wastewater treatment by-product.

    Currently, the City of Davis, the City of Woodland, and UC Davis together discharge about
    13 million gallons of treated wastewater each day (mgd). Over the course of a year, this
    wastewater contains more than 49 million pounds of dissolved salts directly derived from the
    groundwater supply. Water softeners and other commercial activities further increase the
    amount of salt that is discharged. For example assuming 2002 water softener efficiencies, for
    every pound of hardness removed from the water supply by residential water softeners, over
    6 pounds of salt would be added (Karajeh and King, 2005 ). The additional salt from water
    softeners is conveyed to the Project Partners’ WWTPs and eventually discharged into
    receiving waters. The total amount of salt equals 14.9 million pounds per year discharged from the Project Partners’ WWTPs. Substituting treated surface water from the Sacramento River for a substantial portion of existing groundwater supplies would decrease the amount of salt in the discharged wastewater effluent of each Project Partner by up to 70 percent. This would be accomplished by reducing the amount of salt and hardness in the water supply. This would provide the Project Partners with a sensible and cost-effective strategy for reducing the
    salt loads in their treated wastewater effluent.

  3. One of the most important statements in the EIR is the section on the need to Reduce Salt Load in Wastewater Discharge.
    Here is that section:

    The Central Valley Regional Water Board (CVRWCB) is enforcing limits set forth in the Water Quality Control Plan (Basin Plan) Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Basins (CVRWCB, 1998). To implement the Basin Plan objectives, the CVRWCB has established limits on electrical conductivity in treated wastewater effluent. These limits are requiring wastewater dischargers to take steps to reduce salinity concentrations in their treated effluent. Additionally, the CVRWCB is currently developing a Central Valley drinking water policy, which is expected to be adopted by 2009. A current factsheet describing this effort is posted to the CVRWCB website at:
    http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralvalley/cv-salts/progs-polic-rpts/index.html.

    A primary objective of the Project Partners is to reduce the TDS levels in their water supplies as a
    means of reducing wastewater effluent salt loads in an economically feasible manner. Wastewater treatment processes, such as reverse osmosis (RO), that would remove salts from the wastewater prior to discharge are very costly and considered to be economically infeasible. RO treatment systems would also require collection, storage, and disposal of large quantities of saline brine that would be produced as a RO wastewater treatment by-product.

    Currently, the City of Davis, the City of Woodland, and UC Davis together discharge about
    13 million gallons of treated wastewater each day (mgd). Over the course of a year, this
    wastewater contains more than 49 million pounds of dissolved salts directly derived from the
    groundwater supply. Water softeners and other commercial activities further increase the
    amount of salt that is discharged. For example assuming 2002 water softener efficiencies, for
    every pound of hardness removed from the water supply by residential water softeners, over
    6 pounds of salt would be added (Karajeh and King, 2005 ). The additional salt from water
    softeners is conveyed to the Project Partners’ WWTPs and eventually discharged into
    receiving waters. The total amount of salt equals 14.9 million pounds per year discharged from the Project Partners’ WWTPs. Substituting treated surface water from the Sacramento River for a substantial portion of existing groundwater supplies would decrease the amount of salt in the discharged wastewater effluent of each Project Partner by up to 70 percent. This would be accomplished by reducing the amount of salt and hardness in the water supply. This would provide the Project Partners with a sensible and cost-effective strategy for reducing the
    salt loads in their treated wastewater effluent.

  4. One of the most important statements in the EIR is the section on the need to Reduce Salt Load in Wastewater Discharge.
    Here is that section:

    The Central Valley Regional Water Board (CVRWCB) is enforcing limits set forth in the Water Quality Control Plan (Basin Plan) Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Basins (CVRWCB, 1998). To implement the Basin Plan objectives, the CVRWCB has established limits on electrical conductivity in treated wastewater effluent. These limits are requiring wastewater dischargers to take steps to reduce salinity concentrations in their treated effluent. Additionally, the CVRWCB is currently developing a Central Valley drinking water policy, which is expected to be adopted by 2009. A current factsheet describing this effort is posted to the CVRWCB website at:
    http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralvalley/cv-salts/progs-polic-rpts/index.html.

    A primary objective of the Project Partners is to reduce the TDS levels in their water supplies as a
    means of reducing wastewater effluent salt loads in an economically feasible manner. Wastewater treatment processes, such as reverse osmosis (RO), that would remove salts from the wastewater prior to discharge are very costly and considered to be economically infeasible. RO treatment systems would also require collection, storage, and disposal of large quantities of saline brine that would be produced as a RO wastewater treatment by-product.

    Currently, the City of Davis, the City of Woodland, and UC Davis together discharge about
    13 million gallons of treated wastewater each day (mgd). Over the course of a year, this
    wastewater contains more than 49 million pounds of dissolved salts directly derived from the
    groundwater supply. Water softeners and other commercial activities further increase the
    amount of salt that is discharged. For example assuming 2002 water softener efficiencies, for
    every pound of hardness removed from the water supply by residential water softeners, over
    6 pounds of salt would be added (Karajeh and King, 2005 ). The additional salt from water
    softeners is conveyed to the Project Partners’ WWTPs and eventually discharged into
    receiving waters. The total amount of salt equals 14.9 million pounds per year discharged from the Project Partners’ WWTPs. Substituting treated surface water from the Sacramento River for a substantial portion of existing groundwater supplies would decrease the amount of salt in the discharged wastewater effluent of each Project Partner by up to 70 percent. This would be accomplished by reducing the amount of salt and hardness in the water supply. This would provide the Project Partners with a sensible and cost-effective strategy for reducing the
    salt loads in their treated wastewater effluent.

  5. DPD – Is the campaign contribution of $200 you list in the article correct? I don’t know how much it takes to inappropriately influence a politician, but do you really mean to suggest that you think that Saylor would actually be significantly influenced for a $200?

    The issue regarding which water sources is significant and important. I am not well informed about the matters, but a long term, high quality water supply is vital to any town and we should fully explore all the options.

  6. DPD – Is the campaign contribution of $200 you list in the article correct? I don’t know how much it takes to inappropriately influence a politician, but do you really mean to suggest that you think that Saylor would actually be significantly influenced for a $200?

    The issue regarding which water sources is significant and important. I am not well informed about the matters, but a long term, high quality water supply is vital to any town and we should fully explore all the options.

  7. DPD – Is the campaign contribution of $200 you list in the article correct? I don’t know how much it takes to inappropriately influence a politician, but do you really mean to suggest that you think that Saylor would actually be significantly influenced for a $200?

    The issue regarding which water sources is significant and important. I am not well informed about the matters, but a long term, high quality water supply is vital to any town and we should fully explore all the options.

  8. DPD – Is the campaign contribution of $200 you list in the article correct? I don’t know how much it takes to inappropriately influence a politician, but do you really mean to suggest that you think that Saylor would actually be significantly influenced for a $200?

    The issue regarding which water sources is significant and important. I am not well informed about the matters, but a long term, high quality water supply is vital to any town and we should fully explore all the options.

  9. I think the real issue is that it seems improper to be accepting any money, no matter how small from a vendor that is doing business with the city and that Saylor will be in the position to make a decision on.

  10. I think the real issue is that it seems improper to be accepting any money, no matter how small from a vendor that is doing business with the city and that Saylor will be in the position to make a decision on.

  11. I think the real issue is that it seems improper to be accepting any money, no matter how small from a vendor that is doing business with the city and that Saylor will be in the position to make a decision on.

  12. I think the real issue is that it seems improper to be accepting any money, no matter how small from a vendor that is doing business with the city and that Saylor will be in the position to make a decision on.

  13. The primary objective of reducing the salt load in wastewater discharge is not the question.

    The question is whether:

    1. We have looked at less expensive options adequately and ruled them out

    2. That we can trust the advice we are getting from our consultants who have a stake financially in us going forward with the water supply project

    3. Whether this needs to occur at the same time as the wastewater treatment plant

    4. Whether there are other cheaper but still reliable sources of water that can reduce our salt discharge without having to have us construct a $150 million and really probably twice that, water supply project

    Those are the questions that the EIR which was copied and pasted by anonymous 7:08 does not address

  14. The primary objective of reducing the salt load in wastewater discharge is not the question.

    The question is whether:

    1. We have looked at less expensive options adequately and ruled them out

    2. That we can trust the advice we are getting from our consultants who have a stake financially in us going forward with the water supply project

    3. Whether this needs to occur at the same time as the wastewater treatment plant

    4. Whether there are other cheaper but still reliable sources of water that can reduce our salt discharge without having to have us construct a $150 million and really probably twice that, water supply project

    Those are the questions that the EIR which was copied and pasted by anonymous 7:08 does not address

  15. The primary objective of reducing the salt load in wastewater discharge is not the question.

    The question is whether:

    1. We have looked at less expensive options adequately and ruled them out

    2. That we can trust the advice we are getting from our consultants who have a stake financially in us going forward with the water supply project

    3. Whether this needs to occur at the same time as the wastewater treatment plant

    4. Whether there are other cheaper but still reliable sources of water that can reduce our salt discharge without having to have us construct a $150 million and really probably twice that, water supply project

    Those are the questions that the EIR which was copied and pasted by anonymous 7:08 does not address

  16. The primary objective of reducing the salt load in wastewater discharge is not the question.

    The question is whether:

    1. We have looked at less expensive options adequately and ruled them out

    2. That we can trust the advice we are getting from our consultants who have a stake financially in us going forward with the water supply project

    3. Whether this needs to occur at the same time as the wastewater treatment plant

    4. Whether there are other cheaper but still reliable sources of water that can reduce our salt discharge without having to have us construct a $150 million and really probably twice that, water supply project

    Those are the questions that the EIR which was copied and pasted by anonymous 7:08 does not address

  17. I think it is also important to recognize–let’s say the water supply project is the way to go, we need to have the confidence to know that we have explored fully all other options and that those decisions are not being made due to influence peddling and personal loyalties to key supporters.

  18. I think it is also important to recognize–let’s say the water supply project is the way to go, we need to have the confidence to know that we have explored fully all other options and that those decisions are not being made due to influence peddling and personal loyalties to key supporters.

  19. I think it is also important to recognize–let’s say the water supply project is the way to go, we need to have the confidence to know that we have explored fully all other options and that those decisions are not being made due to influence peddling and personal loyalties to key supporters.

  20. I think it is also important to recognize–let’s say the water supply project is the way to go, we need to have the confidence to know that we have explored fully all other options and that those decisions are not being made due to influence peddling and personal loyalties to key supporters.

  21. “I think the real issue is that it seems improper to be accepting any money, no matter how small from a vendor that is doing business with the city and that Saylor will be in the position to make a decision on.”

    So does that mean that any business in Davis can not give to any candidate?

  22. “I think the real issue is that it seems improper to be accepting any money, no matter how small from a vendor that is doing business with the city and that Saylor will be in the position to make a decision on.”

    So does that mean that any business in Davis can not give to any candidate?

  23. “I think the real issue is that it seems improper to be accepting any money, no matter how small from a vendor that is doing business with the city and that Saylor will be in the position to make a decision on.”

    So does that mean that any business in Davis can not give to any candidate?

  24. “I think the real issue is that it seems improper to be accepting any money, no matter how small from a vendor that is doing business with the city and that Saylor will be in the position to make a decision on.”

    So does that mean that any business in Davis can not give to any candidate?

  25. Campaign contributions are a sticky affair.

    If both Jeff and Bruce are Davis residents, then I would say that the contributions are OK. $200 does not appear to be enough to sway the voters one way or another. However, if many employees at West Yost contributed, including those who lived out of town, and also walked precincts, etc. then I’d be a little more suspicious.

    I compare that with the many years of endorsements, campaign volunteer hours and financial contributions by Davis Firefighters, the vast majority of whom do not live in Davis, which effectively help to ensure that people were elected who would approve their contracts year after year. I was once told by the wife of a fire fighter in Davis that she didn’t know who she was voting for because the union president hadn’t told them who to vote for yet. The union president appeared in Don Saylor’s campaign materials, yet he lives in Elk Grove. But, everyone loves the firefighters and no one questions these actions in terms of propriety.

    Saylor needs to inform the community how much this is going to cost each homeowner before this gets to far and before the election if he is going to champion this plan.