Plans and Reports

Over the years a great number of reports and plans have been prepared for Lake Merced.  Not all of these are available in electronic format.  We are posting here those that are, occasionally with comment.  We have also prepared an extensive catalog of documents both in our files and accessable on this web site.  There is some duplication in these files, although not much.  Anyone wanting to access reports available only in our files should contact Friends of Lake Merced at LakeMerced@aol.com.

We've tried to organize this section by topic.  Obviously there is significant overlap, but this sorting may help find what you're looking for:

General and Comprehensive Plans

Water Level and Quality

Natural Areas and Habitat

Recreational Facilities

Westside Basin

Lake Merced Updates

General and Comprehensive Plans

   West Nile virus
Unfortunately, the inevitable was in fact inevitable.  The first case of West Nile Virus has been found in San Francisco.  A bird found in the Presidio was diagnosed with the disease.  As I’m sure you all know, Lake Merced, considered an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society, is especially vulnerable.  So too is the important exotic bird collection at the nearby San Francisco Zoo.  Fortunately, we haven’t experienced the disease around the lake, and a survey of the lake surface conducted earlier this week has, surprisingly, found no mosquito larvae; that is indeed very good news.  There are, however, things we can all do to reduce the impact of the West Nile virus.  For more information read the September Lake Merced Update, or the City's brochure, Fight the Bite.
   Lake Merced Master Plan

The Lake Merced Master Plan is one of 19 "unfunded" projects that had been committed to by the Recreation and Park Department.  This lack of funds, in excess of $50 million, resulted from overspending on projects now underway or completed.  The Golden Gate Audubon Society has written to Yomi Agunbiade, Acting General Manager, requesting that this project be reinstated.

  At their meeting July 15, 2004 the Recreation and Park Commission adopted a capital project ranking scheme that has been applied initially to 19 unfunded projects, but that is intended to be applied more generally in the future.  We object strongly to the fact that environmental issues garner no more than 4% of the points potentially assigned to a project.  We think that the environment is more important than that, and are taking steps to solicit support from the environmental community.

  Lake Merced's projects, including the Master Plan, did not fare well when this weighting scheme was applied to the 19 unfunded projects.  See the results here.

   A Vision for Lake Merced

The Lake Merced Task Force is working hard to develop a shared vision for Lake Merced.  We at Friends of Lake Merced have a few ideas that we'd like to share.

   Lake Merced Updates
Periodically Friends of Lake Merced publishes a report on the condition of Lake Merced and important activities taking place there.  We send these to our e-mail list as well as publishing them here.  We also post periodic updates and newsletters published by the Public Utilities Commission.  Please let us know if you'd like to be added to our mailing list.
  San Francisco Precautionary Principle Policy
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted the precautionary principle as city and county policy June 17, 2003, "a stunning and unprecedented breakthrough in the management of environmental matters in the U.S."

  The Wingspread Consensus Statement on the Precautionary Principle,the original statement as developed at Wingspread in Racine Wisconsin, January 26, 1998.

   The San Francisco Department of the Environment published this White Paper, The Precautionary Principle and the City and County of San Francisco, March 2003. (pdf)

  New Approaches to Safeguarding the earth; An environmental version of the Hippocratic oath, by Jared Blumenfeld, Director of San Francisco's Department of the Environment, San Francisco Chronicle, August 4, 2003

  Ruth Rosen wrote an article in the San Francisco Chronicle (June 19, 2003), Better Safe Than Sorry,  defending this policy and describing its benefits.

  The Chronicle's Forum takes an opposing view, as seems to be their norm.  (July 16, 2003)

  Strict enforcement of the Precautionary Principle can, however, be a two-edged sword.   We've borrowed a page from Spiked, an on-line magazine published by Signet House, London, describing the potential risks inherent in this policy.

  Plan for Lake Merced, Recreation and Park Department, August 2002

Plans for Lake Merced developed by the Recreation and Park Department are at best brief.  Here's all we've been provided.
  (Draft) Comprehensive Management Plan for Lake Merced, April 1998, Plan and comments
The initial effort of Friends of Lake Merced was to encourage completion of this comprehensive plan for Lake Merced.  Many meetings, and many hours of member participation, were consumed in its preparation.  Unfortunately, the finished plan was never presented to the respective Commissions for approval.  Nevertheless, this has provided a benchmark for progress at the lake, and finally real progress is being made.

We maintain an annual status report on progress that has been made.  This is our report as of January 2003.     Also,  we have provided Michael Carlin's 2002 year-end report as recorded in Commission minutes.

Water Level and Quality

   As we noted in our Lake Merced Update for January 2006, the year-end lake level is the highest it has been since December 1986, prior to the extended drought that seriously threatened Lake Merced.  We suggested a number of potential reasons, and suggested better science is needed to explain this increase, and to determine whether it is likely to continue, 

   David Dawdy, a consulting hydrologist, has responded with what he calls "a rough assessment" of the several factors listed.  Needless to say, David's rough assessment is significantly better than anything we have seen from the Public Utilities Commission, the keepers of the lake.

   Since I distributed the January 2006 Lake Merced Update the PUC has provided some of the information requested in the PUC report to the Lake Merced Task Force (1/11/06).  David Dawdy has used some of this to prepare an Addendum to his earlier report.  The good  news is that, while it's no sure thing, there is reason to be optimistic that the current lake levels can be sustained without significant additions of imported water.

   Never one to rest, David has added some additional observations to his earlier Addendum.

   Lest one doubt David's credentials, he has provided a copy of his (extensive) resume.  I told him that I doubted this site would produce any revenue for his consultancy.  David replied with the observation many of us share, unless they pay for the advice, the bureaucrats don't listen.  I think they should listen to David.

   The Public Utilities Commission and the City of Daly City have issued a final report on the pilot study of stormwater diversion from the Vista Grande Canal into Lake Merced.  Unfortunately the researchers have made a fundamental error, accepting the finding that no contamination has occurred unless their is less than one chance in twenty that conclusion is correct.  Obviously, that is a silly error, and can readily be corrected.  More important is the fact that government officials, in both San Francisco and Daly City, who are responsible for this study as well as for the quality of the water we use every day, accepted these results even though the problem had been suggested before the final report was released.  The full background is available by clicking here.  (Plans, 10/31/05)

   The rainy season is upon us, so it is time to start planning for the 2005-'06 diversion program.  The sponsors of this project issued a "final" plan on December 12.  The program is to get underway this month.  So much for public input.  Here are the relevant documents:

  "It may be tempting to pass off the world’s mounting water woes—from droughts and floods to dried-up rivers and shrinking lakes—to the whims of nature.  But water calamities are increasingly of human origin, the consequences of policies and projects that encourage waste and inefficiency and that work against nature’s water cycles rather than with them."  This begins a very useful essay, Liquidating Our Assets, by Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project Program in Amherst, Massachusetts, and author of  Liquid Assets: The Critical Need to Safeguard Freshwater Ecosystems, published by the Worldwatch Institute.

   The Regional Water Quality Control Board recently added a section to their web site providing clear definitions of all the beneficial use designations used by the Board, and indicating those ascribed to each body of water.  The beneficial uses that pertain to Lake Merced have been assesmbled in a single Word file and posted here.

   The SFPUC is circulating a report titled Lead Shot Characterization and Risk Assessment, Pacific Rod and Gun Club at Lake Merced for public comment.  The draft report describes the results of a voluntary investigation on the environmental risk of lead shot and associated chemicals at the Pacific Rod and Gun Club.  The purpose of the investigation is to evaluate whether raising water levels and inundating a portion of the Pacific Rod and Gun Club property could potentially create adverse humanor ecological risk.  This study was done in coordination with SFPUC"s efforts to restore Lake Merced water levels.  Public comment is due March 1, 2005, and may be e-mailed to Greg Bartow.

   We believe that the reporting on this study has produced more heat than light.  We've posted a copy of the original press release here.  (2/3/05)

   Commissioner Ann Moller Caen requested information about this study, and the report appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle.  We felt the information provided by General Manager Susan Leal was "at best incomplete, and in one important regard factually in error."  We have written to Ms. Caen "to complete and to correct the record."  (2/9/05)

   The Public Utilities Commission has issued a Revised Interim Lake Level Management Plan for Lake Merced.   Comments are due January 9, 2005. Comments submitted by email are preferred and should be sent to gbartow@sfwater.org.

   In what may be their final effort on behalf of the lake, at least for awhile, the consulting firm EDAW has issued their report,  Lake Merced: Lake Setting, Alternative Lake Levels, Supplemental Water Sources, and Lakeside Vegetation (Task 3 Memorandum).  The primary purpose of this memorandum is to provide technical physical, chemical, and biological data on the existing conditions at Lake Merced so as to establish a baseline for the analysis of the possible scenarios for raising and maintaining the water level of Lake Merced.

   The Public Utilities Commission periodically publishes a newsletter about Lake Merced.  Here's their Fall 2004 edition (pdf).

   The Public Utilities Commission has issued their final Lake Level Management Plan establishing short- and long-term targets for lake level.  We feel that a number of important issues raised in the public comment period have not been adequately addressed, and have written to General Manager Susan Leal outlining several of those issues. 
(November 2004)

   Again this summer the Public Utilities Commission intends to pursue what Michael Carlin, Manager of the PUC's Planning Bureau, has called "poor public policy."  The level of Lake Merced will be raised by importing water from the Tuolumne River.  This program is described in a letter to John West at the Regional Water Quality Control Board (pdf).  Meanwhile, other programs that would raise the water level at Lake Merced by restoring the aquifer are being ignored.

    The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has just released their groundwater management report, (Draft) North Westside Groundwater Basin Management PlanA meeting to present and discuss this report will be held at the West Sunset Playground, 39th Avenue and Ortega, June 24 from 6:00 - 8:00 P.M.  Public comment is due July 15, and should be e-mailed to Greg Bartow at gbartow@sfwater.org.

   The consulting firm URS has been retained to study possible impacts on water quality resulting from an increase in water level that may inundated grounds at the Pacific Rod & Gun Club.  They will attempt to determine if there are any potential residual impacts from the use of lead shot that was halted several years ago.  A copy of their proposed workplan is available here.

   The consulting firms EDAW, Inc. and Talavera & Richardson have been retained by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to conduct a series of studies of Lake Merced,  Generally speaking, these studies are intended to evaluate the effect of varying lake levels on the various beneficial uses of the lake.  To date three studies have been released in electronic format, and are published here:

  Tech Memo 5 -- Adaptive Management Monitoring Plan focuses on the program developed to monitor vegetation, birds and water quality in the area.  Public comments, preferably by e-mail, are due by May 5, 2004, and should be sent to Greg Bartow at the PUC.

  Tech Memo 4 -- Initiative to Raise and Maintain Lake Level and Improve Water Quality,  The purpose of the Task 4 Technical Memorandum is to assess the physical and biologicalimpacts of raising Lake Merced by +4, +6, and +8 feet (herein referred to as +4, +6, and +8 scenarios) with four optional supplemental water sources. These water sources are Vista Grande stormwater from Daly City, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) or Daly City recycled waste water, SFPUC system supply water, and Westside Basin groundwater. Impacts to water quality, vegetation, birds and other wildlife, beneficial uses, and facilities are discussed.

  Tech Memo 3 -- Initiative to Raise and Maintain Lake Level and Improve Water Quality,  This technical memorandum sets the stage for subsequent reports that will assess environmental impacts, develop a monitoring program, and detail the regulatory process of various alternatives.
  A meeting was held with the Public Utilities Commission staff and several of their consultants for the purpose of reviewing the work done by EDAW October 25, 2003.  A number of us who participated in that meeting have exchanged e-mails discussing that presentation and remaining open issues.

 Gus Yates has evaluated the effect of errors in estimating evaporation on the accuracy of estimated leakage from Lake Merced.  He concludes that the errors can be very significant (nearly +/- 200%), and recommends a year-long program for measuring evaporation in this letter addressed to Patrick Sweetland, Daly City's Manager of Water and Wastewater Resources.
 Comments on the EDAW report have now been received from:
    The Committee to Save Lake Merced,
   Friends of Lake Merced,
   Golden Gate Audubon Society,  
   David Dawdy, hydrogeologist, and
   Dick Morten.  
   Tech Memo 2 -- Lake Merced: Natural Resource Baseline Study.  This report provides the results of EDAW's 2002 and 2003 field surveys of Lake Merced and establishes a baseline from which to assess the effects of raising the level of the lake.  The objective of the eDAW field surveys was to determine whether any substantial changes have occurred since prior field surveys of Lake Merced were conducted and to provide additional baseline information.

   The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission recently (February 2004) released their Communications Strategic Action Plan for Lake Merced.  True to form, none of this was communicated to anyone in the community before being published.  Important issues like aquifer restoration and use of recycled water for any purpose other than feedstock for the lake are ignored.  Friends of Lake Merced is, however, in very good company, excluded from the list of "targeted audiences," much as CalTrout Day has become "Lake Merced Trout Fishing Day."

   A project is currently being developed to test the feasibility of diverting stormwater from the Daly City's Vista Grande Canal into Lake Merced.  While we completely support this effort to capture fresh rainwater and put it to good use, rather than sending it into the Pacific Ocean, we do have some concerns about this program.  Specifically, coliform contamination has been found in this stormwater, indicating a connection at some point between the stormwater and wastewater systems.  The purpose of the current test is to see if that coliform can be removed through natural screening processes.  We want to assure that adequate safeguards are taken to protect public health and safety.

   Analysis of October 2002 Water Addition, Luhdorff & Scalmanini, March 4, 2003

The Public Utilities Commission has added approximately two feet of water to Lake Merced during the past six months, 1.5' in October 2002, another 6" in April 2003.  The consulting firm Luhdorff and Scalmanini has prepared a report reviewing the observed impact of the first of these additions. 

   Lake Merced Restoration, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, April 2003

The Public Utilities Commission has created a page on their web site that brings together many of the recent plans and proposals for restoring water level and quality at Lake Merced.  Most reports are available in pdf format, together with supporting material.  The PUC has made a real effort to make this material available for public review.  We appreciate their effort; the result looks quite good!
  Leaving a Lake Legacy, Neighborhood Parks Council, December 2002
The Neighborhood Parks Council commissioned hydrologist Katie Pilat to conduct a study of the condition of the remaining three lakes in San Francisco, Mountain Lake, Pine Lake and Lake Merced.  We have provided a copy of the Executive Summary to Katie's report here. For a full copy contact the Neighborhood Parks Council.
  Capital Improvement Plan, Public Utilities Commission, Summer 2002
Proposition A, passed by the San Francisco electorate in November, 2002, provides for $103 million dedicated to develop water recycling facilities.  This development can have a major impact on Lake Merced as recycled water replaces groundwater for many industrial and irrigation applications.  We are keeping track of the recycled water program here.
  Assessment of Water Addition Scenarios, Luhdorff & Scalmanini, May 2002 (pdf file)
This memorandum provides an overview of an evaluation of scenarios involving water additions to Lake Merced which has evolved in two sets of scenarios: 1) planning level estimates of the volume of water that would need to be added at a particular flow rate to induce the lake level to rise in various increments; and 2) revision of the initial estimates to reflect seasonal restrictions in the availability of water which might be added to the Lake.
  The Pumpers and their Myths; The Saga of Lake Merced, April 5, 2001
Over a period of several years those entities pumping from the Westside Basin aquifer have attempted to rationalize their effect on Lake Merced.  Aided by Michael Carlin of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission they issued a "Minority Report" in response to the Lake Merced Task Force Water Committee Report denying that conclusion.  We assembled a thorough and well documented, if somewhat tongue-in-cheek, reply.
  Report of the Lake Merced Task Force Water Committee, January 10, 2001
This report also reflects numerous hours of effort by community members.  Initially rejected by the Public Utilities Commission as being inadequately supported, subsequent studies conducted for the PUC by the consulting firm Luhdorff and Scalmanini have validate most if not all of the conclusions drawn.
  Principles for the Ecological Restoration of Aquatic Resources, 2000
The United State Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA) has published this very useful set of guidelines for restoring aquatic resources of all types throughout the United States.
  Feasibility Evaluation of Alternatives to Raise Lake Merced, October 1998
In this report the PUC catalogs, and provides initial cost/benefit estimates, for a number of programs intended to raise Lake Merced.  The diversion of treated stormwater into the lake was selected as the top priority project, and a cooperative program utilizing stormwater flowing through the Vista Grande Canal has been developed with the City of Daly City.  That program is now in a testing phase.
Natural Areas and Habitat

   It seems that we have a new neighbor.  Apparently a Red Fox has taken up residence near the Impound Lake.  Read Robert Anderson's report.

   Paul Gobster is the Editor of Restoring Nature, a book about the restoration conflict in Chicago.  Chicago was a treeless prairie prior to the arrival of Europeans, and so the issues are similar to those here in San Francisco.  Unlike the controversy here, the conflict was resolved more quickly in Chicago by those who manage the public lands.  Paul just completed avisiting professorship at Berkeley.  While he was here, he studied our local controversy and gave several public lectures.  Attached is his last lecture, delivered on Earth Day at the Randall Museum.  (pdf file)

   The Harding Park Golf Course renovation and planned participation in the P.G.A. Tour Championship allows the City of San Francisco to create a model for the nation for developing the wildlife potential of urban golf courses. It also provides an opportunity to create a template for wildlife management within San Francisco's four other city-owned golf courses.  The San Francisco Quail Recovery Task Force has submitted a Wildlife Management Plan for Harding Park.  The overall goal is to balance recreational use with wildlife enhancement, creating a partnership with mutual benefits between sport and nature. And, by engaging a broad base of volunteers, wildlife stewardship activities also make golf courses multi-purpose recreational facilities serving a greater number of residents.

 The Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan, prepared for the Recreation and Park Department by EIP Associates, is now available on the web.  You can read the section descrbing the proposals for Lake Merced here.

 The Board of Supervisors Citizens' Advisory Committee (NAP-CAC) have reviewed that part of this plan pertaining to Lake Merced.  You can read a copy of  their report here.

  The Coastal Conservancy has approved a proposal to invest nearly $500,000 in a Lake Merced Stewardship Project, Phase II.  Together with nearly matching funds from the City, a total budget of $847,385 is intended to accomplish the following goals:

If you would like to comment on this proposal please contact David Hayes in the Oakland office of the Coastal Conservancy.

  The Public Utilities Commission has commissioned the consulting firm EDAW to develop a baseline inventory of shoreline and habitat conditions at Lake Merced.  This is intended to enable evaluation of the impact on habitat and other shoreline beneficial uses from rising lake levels.  A draft report is now available at the PUC web site.

Additional supporting documents include:

  Proposal overview and project description, July 17, 2002
   Budget (Excel file download)
  Minutes from a public review meeting held August 13, 2002

  Work Plan -- Revised Draft, August 22, 2002

  Work Plan -- Revised Draft, January 2003 (pdf file)

  Attachment 1, Crieteria evaluated for a lake level rise of 2.0 feet
   Attachment 2, Work plan implementation schedule
  Tree Management Plan, Lake Merced Pump Station, HortScience, Inc., November 2001
Pine trees in Northern California are seriously threatened by the disease Pine pitch canker (Fusarium subglutinans).  This report proposes a remedial program for trees infected in the vicinity of the Lake Merced Pumping Station.
  Lake Merced special appropriation of $200,000, November 1998
As one of his final acts as State Assemblyman, Quentin Kopp allocated $200,000 to the Natural Areas Program for Lake Merced.  After an initial budget outline, reported here, we were unable to find out what happened to that money.
  Lake Merced Baseline Natural Resources Inventory, October 1998
One action described in the Comprehensive Management Plan for Lake Merced was the development of a baseline natural resource inventory that could be used to evaluate the effect of changing lake levels.  The PUC retained a consultant to conduct that study, without the involvementof Recreation and Park Department personnel responsible for maintaining those resources.  The result is, and was, predictable.
Recreational Facilities

  Summary of revised plan for renovating Harding Park, Recreation and Park Department, May 30, 2002.

A $16 million renovation of Harding Park Golf Course is now underway.  Funds to support this renovation were 'borrowed' from the Open Space Fund.  A description of this project, together with copies of supporting legislation from the Supes is available here.  We are also tracking related press coverage.
Westside Basin

   In their best 3-D tradition (that's Decide, Describe, and Defend!) the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the City of Daly City have just issued their joint study of the Vista Grande Watershed (March 2006).  They have provided less than a week to read this 240-plus page report prior to their first public meeting to present its contents. 
A copy of this report is available on the Daly City Web site.

Here are some highlights:

  Between $72- and $104-million will be spent drilling a new, larger tunnel so that more fresh rainwater can be poured into the ocean,

  Another $35- to $49-million will be invested in Storm Drain Improvements
in order to expedite the flow of fresh rainwater into the new, improved tunnel,

  Nothing will be spent to support Best Management Practices (BMPs) to encourage fresh water conservation.  For example, no consideration was given a program to disconnect downspouts from the stormwater drains, allowing rain to flow from rooftops into the aquifer just as it did before the houses were built.

  In order to gain environmentalists support, a 5.5 acre constructed wetland will be built just south of Lake Merced, at a cost of $2 million per acre.
The tunnel will be built first, projected completion 2011.  Presumably if there's any money still in the till the other projects, including the constructed wetland, can begin when that's complete. 


           The San Francisco Examiner reports on the lack of public notice of the 'Workshop' called to discuss this proposal.  "Daly City officials did not return calls for comment."  (Press, 3/28/06)

          Dick Allen has written to the Lake Merced Task Force suggesting that they take action to assure that retention of fresh water for the purpose of aquifer recharge is given full consideration.  (4/26/06)

   After more than four months there has been no additional reporting to the community on the progress being made with the Vista Grande watershed study.  However, according to the Examiner (12/1/2005), the SF-PUC and Daly City have decided that the best thing to do is to build a bigger tunnel to enable piping this valuable fresh water into the ocean.  The price for this brilliant solution: $55 million.  Another $37 million in funds not yet designated make this "the largest public works project in Daly City history," according to Patrick Sweetland, Daly City’s director of water and wastewater.
   This approach stands in sharp contrast to the award-winning program in Orange County.  It seems that the southern Californians care more about the San Francisco / San Juanquin Delta than do our own city officials.  We asked them to talk to some of the folks down south, but our guys know better!

   In a widely distributed e-mail Dick Allen, a San Francisco resident, asks "W
hy does the city want to ship rain water out to sea?"  He continues, "We can no longer afford to do business as usual.  Water is a very precious commodity that needs immediate attention."

   For more information (a lot more!) about the Orange County program visit their web site.  Two numbers of note: the capacity of this system, when completed in 2007, will be 70 million gallons of recycled water each day (mg/d).  Construction cost will be $487 million, or just under $7 million per mg/d capacity.  Compare that with the SF-PUC's current proposal, a $200 million investment for just 4.5 mg/d, or almost $45 million per mg/d capacity.  $200 million for just about enough water to irrigate Golden Gate Park and Harding Golf Course.  We doubt that even the big spenders in San Francisco are willing to support this nonsense.

The City of Daly City and the City and County of San Francisco are jointly preparing a study for stormwater management improvements in the Vista Grande watershed.  The purpose of the study is to develop a Strategic Plan for the watershed that will reduce or eliminate flooding, reduce erosion along Lake Merced, and maximize other potential benefits such as groundwater recharge and augmentation of Lake Merced water levels.  As part of this joint study, RMC Water and Environment conducted a workshop on behalf of the City of Daly City and the City and County of San Francisco on July 27, 2005.  A copy of the presentation slides for this workshop is available on the PUC web site.

   The Public Utilities Commission has finally released the (Draft) North Westside Basin Groundwater Management Plan. The plan is being developed as part of the SFPUC's commitment to integrated water resources management, and provides a roadmap for managing and developing groundwater resources as a local emergency, drought, and regular drinking water supply. 

  Friends of Lake Merced, in cooperation with the Alliance for a Clean Waterfront, a project of Earth Island Institute, has prepared a commentary on this plan.  For a number of reasons described in these comments, we have requested that this plan be put on the shelf until an appropriate organization can be developed that adequately coordinates the groundwater planning with closely related clean water, recycled water, and stormwater programs.

   Joe Scalmanini, Principal of the firm Luhdorff and Scalmanini, prepared this response to our comments.

   There has been considerable disappointment in the community, both to the tone and the substance of Joe Scalmanini's response.  Dick Allen has written to Cheryl Davis, Acting General Manager of the Public Utilities Commission, expressing this disappointment, and suggesting constructive steps that need to be taken to move the planning process forward.

  Cheryl Davis replies.

   The PUC has published a Response to Public Comments (pdf), including the comments submitted by the Friends of Lake Merced together with the Alliance for a Clean Waterfront.  We suggest a little game: How many inconsistencies can you find?  For example, in response to our comments they observe "Interestingly, there is no mention of using recycled water for direct input to any lake; the comment that such a use is the 'only consideration' is incorrect."  In response to comments by Dick Morten they observe "particularly if recycled water is selected as a component of purposeful augmentation of the lake, San Francisco will pursue an appropriate modification of the emergency potable water designation for Lake Merced."  It all depends on what's useful.

   We have written to Susan Leal, PUC General Manager, commenting on the Response to Public Comments. (11/15/04)

   Susan Leal has replied to our letter commenting on the public comment process.  (11/22/04)  As we have come to expect, a letter from the PUC fails to respond to most of the points we have raised.  Again this time our suggestion that the PUC might pay some attention to Commission President Dennis Normandy's suggestion that a budget be allocated on a project basis for public involvement has been completely ignored.

There were also two attachments to this letter, which we have not posted as we do not have them in electronic format.  The purpose of these documents was not described in the letter, so we will draw our own conclusions:

   Attachment 1 contains a list of outreach and public information efforts for Lake Merced and the Groundwater Management Plan.  This list confirms our earlier assertion that there were no public reviews of this document in the two years that it was in preparation prior to its release this spring.  It does indicate six public meetings since that release, along with a number of notices of various types.  Nevertheless, after "every effort to engage the public" not a single word of this plan has been altered on the document posted at the PUC web site.

  Attachment 2 contains the minutes of the most recent SFPUC Technical Review Committee (TRC) meeting.  These document the fact that the person taking the minutes failed to note comments from the TRC members related to groundwater management in the Westside Basin.  No effort has been made by anyone at the PUC to contact us to find out who made these comments, or to members of the TRC to solicit their inputs on this matter.  Rather, as the Response to Public Comment originally stated,  "(The TRC) is constituted to advise the PUC on wastewater-related matters, and not on groundwater management."  Despite Susan's assertions to the contrary, these various programs are not well integrated at the operating level.

It seems that Susan Leal has quickly learned to accommodate the culture of the PUC.  While we are disappointed, we  hoped that Susan would change that culture instead, we are not really surprised.

   Luhdorff and Scalmanini, Consulting Engineers, recently published their Update on the Conceptualization of the Lake-Aquifer System, Westside Ground-Water Basin. 

  We've sent in our observations on this basically political, rather than scientific, report.

   Testable Hypotheses on the Conceptualization of Lake Merced and the Westside Groundwater Basin, Luhdorff and Scalmanini, Consulting Engineers, Dec. 3, 2002

This report proposes a series of tests designed to confirm positions supportive of the Public Utilities Commission's evaluation of the relationship between Lake Merced and the Westside Basin aquifer.
   First amendment to water supply contract between the City and County of San Francisco and the California Water Service Company (CWSC), South San Francisco Service Area, for purposes of conducting an aquifer recharge study, December 2002.
This agreement provides for a two-year experimental program of conjunctive use in which San Francisco will sell Hetch-Hetchy water to CWSC at favorable rates in exchange for reduced pumping from the Westside Basin aquifer.  A similar agreement was adopted by the City of San Bruno at the same time.
  Blueprint for a Unified and Improved Groundwater Model of the Westside Basin in San Francisco and San Mateo Counties, Gus Yates, Hydrologist, Oct. 22, 2002
Consulting hydrologists Gus Yates and John Fio have been retained by the City of Daly City to complete the groundwater model of the Westside Basin and Lake Merced.  This report details their proposed approach.
  Westside Basin Groundwater Model; TM-18, May 1997 (Text only, Word file)
This Technical Memorandum describes a model of the Westside Basin developed by the consulting firm CH2M Hill using the MicroFem simulation tool.
  Table A provides a detailed description of both monitoring and production wells in the Westside Basin. (Excel file)

  Table B describes land use, including per cent irrigated, and per cent impervious surface.  (Excel file)

  David Dawdy, a consulting hydrologist working with Friends of Lake Merced, conducted this detailed review of that plan.

  With David Dawdy's assistance we addressed this letter to Jim Hartley, head of CH2M Hill's local office asking for clarification.  We have not received any reply to that letter.

  Agreement for purchase and sale of recycled water between the City of Daly City, and the North San Mateo County Sanitation District, Olympic Club, Lake Merced Golf Club, San Francisco Golf Club and the City and County of San Francisco, by and through the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, March 2002
This is the break-through agreement that has led to the first significant recycled water program in either San Mateo or San Francisco counties.
  Review of Progress Toward a Negotiated Settlement Between the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, The City of Daly City, Three Golf Clubs, and California Trout
These initial term sheets, published with much public and political ballyhoo, never made it into final agreements.  We've published these reports, with commentary, to complete the record of progress on the negotiations initiated by California Trout.
  The Westside Basin Groundwater Management Plan, August 1999
This report was developed through the cooperative efforts of San Francisco PUC, Daly City, San Bruno and the California Water Service Company.  This effort occurred before California Trout filed their petition, and reflects the cozy atmosphere that then prevailed.  We have been unable to obtain an electronic copy of this report, but have published considerable commentary here.
  San Francisco Zoo Infrastructure Replacement; Environmental Impact Report (and CEQA, review), Dec. 22, 1994
While this is rather old news now, it's illuminating to note the indifference with which the Planning Department has considered environmental issues in the past.  Without increased public pressure this is sure to continue.
  We have written to Becky Evans, Vice President of the Environmetal Commission of San Francisco, enclosing a copy of this report.