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Nüz

Don't Drink The Water

As jealous as we are about your upcoming vacation to some idyllic tropical paradise, what follows is not some sour grape–flavored reminder that you're bound to contract a painful, vacation-ruining intestinal tract bug. In fact, we've got nothing but love for Davenport residents and businesses, who received a peculiar, yet important notice, May 9, from the DAVENPORT COUNTY SANITATION DISTRICT advising them in big, bold capital letters: DO NOT DRINK THE WATER WITHOUT BOILING IT FIRST.

The jargon-filled explanation on the notice--with all its talk of siltation, particulates, filtration and water diversion intakes--is murky at best, but county sanitation specialist RACHEL LATHER cleared it up for Nüz with a handy two-part explanation.

First of all, Lather says that no reports of illness have been made, and that the water is just as clean as it was last year. It's just that the outdated filtration system cannot comply with the newer standards imposed by the state that went into effect in January, and which require removal of 99.9 percent of giardiasis, 99.99 percent of viruses and 99 percent of Nüz's personal favorite, cryptosporidium. Lather says an upgrade would cost $600,000--a sizeable burden to be borne by approximately 100 users. (Lather has been pursuing grants and loans from the state, so far to no avail.)

The other problem, Lather points out, was caused by MOTHER NATURE, who manifested heavy rainfall this winter that muddied up the SAN VICENTE RIVER, from which water is drawn by the CEMEX cement plant, from which water is drawn for the businesses and residents of Davenport (yes, you read that right). Lather says the turbidity (muddiness) of the water sometimes made it impossible to filter according to new turbidity standards without Cemex cleaning its water intake, which would require a permit from the Department of Fish and Game. Cemex did not return Nüz's calls as of presstime, but Fish and Game was unaware of any application for such a permit. In the meantime, the Davenport County Sanitation District must continue to circumvent the problem by shipping in water from the City of Santa Cruz, which Lather says costs about $60,000 a year.

Blah, blah, blah. The question of the day remains, is the water safe? The less-than-satisfying answer is that county workers can only toe the company line about the new safety standards.

"It's hard to say what is safe," says Lather, "since the definition of what is safe has changed."

County environmental health specialist ANDREW STRADER says he's only gotten one call from a resident concerned with an intestinal problem, but that the symptoms of spoiled water sickness--nausea, vomiting, diarrhea--are similar to those that would be exhibited from many food-borne viruses. For more information, call Santa Cruz County Environmental Health Department at 831.454.2022.

Stagnant Water

Speaking of environmental illness, the war against the West Nile Virus is officially on. Santa Cruz County Mosquito and Vector Control Agency manager PAUL BINDING said that 37 dead birds have tested positive for the virus within the county, a disturbing fact that prompted the Board of Supes to convene a West Nile Virus Technical Advisory Committee, which in turn recommended the annexation of the cities of Santa Cruz, Capitola and Scotts Valley, which are not currently served by the county agency. Property owners have already received ballots to vote for the ballot measure to annex the unserved cities, but in the meantime, the Santa Cruz City Council already voted to spend $13,000 for mosquito abatement in the summer months. For information about prevention and protection, visit www.santacruzhealth.org and click on the West Nile Virus update link. Dead birds should still be reported to the state hot line at 877.WNV.BIRD (877.968.2473).

Election Sleuthing

As if the sheer density of petition gatherers downtown on some afternoons isn't enough to make Nüz weary of signing the damned things, we must also bear in mind the real possibility that our precious signatures might not ever be counted, because that's what happens if the person collecting signatures doesn't qualify for the job.

Assistant DA MORGAN TAYLOR explains that the qualifications are different for different elections, but for a city referendum, signature gathers must be eligible to register to vote in the City of Santa Cruz.

DANIEL COOPER, who collected signatures for the referendum effort against the Coast Hotel project, stands accused of false voter registration and making false statements on a petition affidavit. Santa Cruz County Clerk GAIL PELLERIN says that her office investigated Cooper after the city questioned his residency, and found that he had recently reregistered from an unincorporated area to a homeless shelter in Santa Cruz, but he was still receiving mail at his previous address. An investigation by the DA's office confirmed that Cooper was not living at the homeless shelter.

What with the Coast Hotel project dead in the water, the fact that Cooper's signatures will be discounted won't make any real difference, except that Nüz will be more suspicious than ever of anyone with a clipboard in hand. Naturally, not a single one of them was out on the street last Friday when Nüz went out to investigate, but an anonymous source has since informed us that professional petitioners migrate to where the money is, earning as much as $6 per signature if they meet certain quotas. Anyone got a clipboard we can borrow?

Architecture Tour

As the County Planning Department struggles to develop fair and workable guidelines for development in coastal neighborhoods, the ARCHITECTS ASSOCIATION OF SANTA CRUZ COUNTY will host their 10TH ANNUAL OPEN ARCHITECTURE TOUR on Saturday, May 21, 10am–4pm, which benefits HABITAT FOR HUMANITY and showcases nine sites that exhibit the exceptional design and execution of a wide range of architectural ideas and styles. One ticket for $25 admits two people to all sites; tickets are available at Bookworks in Aptos (831.688.4554), San Lorenzo Lumber (831.426.1020) and Bookshop Santa Cruz (831.423.0900), or visit www.aascc.org for more info.

Bike Week Reminder

Don't forget, BIKE WEEK is raging on; Thursday, May 19, is Bike 2 Work Day, and Sunday, May 22, is the Detour Train and Bike Ride--the train from Depot Park to Felton leaves at 10:30am; for more info, visit www.bike2work.com.

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From the May 18-25, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

For more information about Santa Cruz, visit santacruz.com.




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