Surfing in the California desert? Developer’s plan sparks outrage over water use, drought concerns
The development of a surf camp on the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula has sparked controversy after environmental and public health experts raised concerns that the plan will harm the local water supply.
The proposed site, called the Point Reyes Peninsula Surf Camp, has attracted attention because of its proximity to the San Francisco Bay estuary and because it would bring thousands of tourists to a local beach. The camp would include a hotel, two restaurants, an upscale surf shop, and a bar, according to developers.
But some health experts have expressed concerns over the camp’s potential for water contamination and have called on the city to regulate the project, saying it threatens local drinking water resources.
“This project has the potential to pollute our water,” said Steve Orseolia, vice president of the Pacific Coastkeeper. “They’re going to bring in all these tourists and it’s already getting so dry down there. But instead of putting up pumps to pull up water, they’re putting in this kind of water project.”
Local water officials were unaware of the developers’ plans and are reviewing the proposal under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency.
But the developers have said they respect the environment. They say that they won’t use the water from the camp to wash their vehicles, and they may eventually build their two restaurants and a surf shop on the land that will be reserved for the camp.
“The plan will provide plenty of water for the growing community of residents and visitors who have been so enthusiastic about the site,” said Greg Davis, managing partner of San Francisco-based Point Reyes Development, which is behind the project.
“That’s basically our whole plan,” he told the Union-Tribune, which first reported the camp’s development plans.
A water grab?
Environmentalists have said that the camp could contaminate the groundwater and natural springs near the camp in the San Francisco Bay estuary. They hope to stop the camp from receiving any of the water or from using any of the water for any purpose unless it is for drinking, swimming, or watering lawns and gardens.
If a water quality permit is granted, the camp would be required to use the water to treat wastewater and store it