By Mark Speros, San Juan Capistrano

As recently as last week, Mayor Sam Allevato was working hard to spin San Juan Capistrano residents on the reliability and production capability currently enjoyed by the city’s Groundwater Recovery Plant (“Your Questions Answered,” Jan. 10-23).

“The GWRP is now operating at a very efficient level, providing millions of gallons of drinking water daily,” Allevato wrote. “The GWRP provides us with the requisite seven days storage capacity.”

It’s a statement that bolsters confidence in the premise that our City Council majority is providing strong leadership while carefully monitoring city functions and state requirements.

Too bad he didn’t check in with City Manager Karen Brust.

Her most recent “weekly” report (from Dec. 13—it tends to come out monthly), currently posted on the city’s own website, must be talking about someone else’s GWRP. She notes that due to the installation of multiple items, the plant has been effectively closed from Nov. 11 through the end of the year. That’s supported by the most recent production numbers—only 61 acre feet in December. Based on their state (and constantly declining) annual goal of 3,843 acre feet, each month should result in no less than 321 acre feet.

Just an unusual glitch? Nope. The previous December’s total was only 17. But forget last year. In Fiscal Year 2014 (July-December), the plant has made its production goal just twice in six months. More importantly, the plant was down more than it was up. So meeting that seven-day requirement was physically impossible for nearly two months. But, as everyone knows, water continued to flow out of your taps during that time. This fact proves that the Metropolitan Water District really is a far more reliable source.

So the next time Sam trumpets “the GWRP will meet 50 percent of the city’s summer needs and 100 percent of our winter demand,” I’d strongly suggest you challenge him on exactly what numbers that claim is based on. For the last eight years, it’s been a mathematical impossibility.

Let’s hope our mayor is able to work with the great powers above to “schedule” our next earthquake—otherwise, it might not be a “convenient time” for the GWRP. We may discover we have more in common with residents of West Virginia but accompanied with a multimillion-dollar price tag of our own creation.

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