SC Desal Alternatives: Does The Consultant Matter?

Should the City choose the desal engineering consultants to guide the Citizens Water Supply Advisory Committee?


Dear Santa Cruz Friends,

Tomorrow Desal Alternatives will make what I think is a modest request of the City Council. Tell me if you think it is modest.

Tomorrow afternoon around 4pm the City Council will consider whether to authorize $350K for a technical consultant, Stratus Consulting, to the Water Supply Advisory Committee. Desal Alternatives will ask the Council to put their approval on hold.
Here's why:

  1. The Stratus Consulting team includes Kennedy/Jenks, the company that coordinated the local desalination project, including public relations. Kennedy/Jenks has a representative on the board of CalDesal, an advocacy organization for desalination.
  2. The Stratus team also includes Gary Fiske Associates. Fiske was the author of the City's Integrated Water Plan (2003) that named desalination as the preferred water supply option.
  3. Robert Raucher, co-founder of Stratus, has partnered with UCSC professor, Brent Haddad, in developing an economic framework for water agencies considering desalination. Haddad contracted with the City on the desal project and has advocated a pro-desal position in the Sentinel opinion pages.

The problem is not that these technical experts aren't good at what they do. The problem is that their past experience in developing desalination may impact their evaluation of alternatives to desal.

City staff chose the Stratus team without using the normal "request for proposal" process. We will ask the City to initiate their normal process. And we'll ask the City Council to invite the Water Supply Advisory Committee to make a recommendation on who should serve as its technical consultant.

Can you join us tomorrow, Tuesday April 8th, at 4pm at City Hall or sign an email ( to the City Council with the simple message to allow the Water Supply Advisory Committee to recommend its own consultant.


~ Rick Longinotti

Rick Longinotti is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Santa Cruz, California and founder of Santa Cruz Desal Alternatives.

His former occupation, as a 20 year electrical engineer developed his interest in energy efficiency. The energy intensity required to convert ocean water into drinking water drove his desire to investigate alternatives to desalination. For those new to the issues of desalination, read Rick Longinotti: Plan B a sound alternative to desal, to understand why this energy intensive solution needs to be re-evaluated.

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