Palo Alto has a dirty little secret: We are one of the last two cities in California to incinerate our sewage sludge. Oh my. That sounds bad, doesn't it?
We pride ourselves on being environmental leaders. Palo Alto does have climate goals for specific reductions in energy, water and waste and for renewable energy targets that track California’s. That's a good thing.
When it comes to sewage sludge incineration, it turns out we are big-time environmental stragglers. (Our incinerator’s emissions equal those of about 1,250 cars.) How would we like that on a billboard on 101?
Meanwhile, there is a lot of back and forth about the merits of repurposing 10 of 126 acres of what is slated to become Byxbee Park for a facility to handle our organic waste, including sewage sludge (a.k.a “biosolids”); whether the higher use is park vs. waste management; and the pros and cons of various technologies. There is much to study and learn.
But right now, as Palo Alto voters, we need to decide whether we want the opportunity to vote this November to have the OPTION of using up to 10 acres next to the wastewater treatment plant for something other than parkland. That's it. It's about having options.
Bottom line, we need to close the gap between our climate goals and our backward resource systems. By signing the petition before March 15th to allow a vote in November, each of us can take a key step toward closing that gap.