PUC looks at alternatives to locating plant in park 

Determined park advocates have been encouraging the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to seriously consider alternatives to building a recycled-water treatment facility in Golden Gate Park.

In response, the SFPUC requested plausible alternatives, and now it has narrowed a long list of suggestions to six possible sites near Lake Merced and the San Francisco Zoo parking lot.

The alternatives would range in price from $148 million to $218 million, compared to the proposed $153 million center in Golden Gate Park at 47th Avenue and Lincoln Way.

In September, the Sierra Club and the Golden Gate Preservation Alliance slammed the idea of building a so-called “factory” in the park.

“The Sierra Club absolutely does not want it in the park,” said state water committee member Dan Sullivan of the Sierra Club. “I personally have confidence in the SFPUC staff to try to find a solution.”

Tonight, the agency’s staff will present a 99-page report outlining its alternative proposals at a workshop. The options will then be submitted to city planners for consideration in an environmental impact review.

“The executive summary is pretty hot stuff,” SFPUC spokeswoman Suzanne Gautier said, jokingly.

The proposed treatment center would divert up to 4 million gallons of water a day from The City’s Oceanside sewage treatment facility to irrigate various open spaces, reducing San Francisco’s reliance on precious groundwater. Eighty-five percent of the water would irrigate Golden Gate Park, and the rest would be used at Lincoln Park Golf Course, the Presidio Golf Course and other open spaces.

The agency had planned to build a new facility on the same site where a now-unused water treatment plant was built in the 1930s. But despite their support for weaning The City from irrigating lawns with pristine-water sources that could be used for drinking water, park advocates believe the treatment facility does not belong in a park.

“It’s large, it’s a construction site and, frankly, if Rec and Park is willing to give it up, it should be returned to meadows,” Kathy Howard of the Golden Gate Park Preservation Alliance said of the facility’s current location.

“We’re pleased that the [SFPUC] is evaluating other alternatives and we look forward to hearing what those outcomes might be,” Recreation and Park Department spokesman Elton Pon wrote in an e-mail. “Ultimately, recycled water in Golden Gate Park is a good thing and further research will help us determine whether or not a treatment facility needs to reside in Golden Gate Park.”


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Kamala Kelkar

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