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Editorial: Vote Yes on P, the South Livermore Sewer Extension Project

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Livermorians take pride in the city's bustling wine region and recognize its value to the city and the broader Tri-Valley area, which is likely why the South Livermore Sewer Extension Project has received widespread support from various stakeholders, bolstering our decision to recommend Yes on Measure P.

The project's goal is to protect groundwater from contamination and allow a limited expansion of wine country-related business uses. We've reviewed the text of the measure, the official pro argument in the county voter guide, statements from proponents as well as the numerous reader opinion submissions expressing support for the project, which led us to our conclusion.

With the county contributing 80% of the construction funds ($6.5 million) and the city's affirmation that its existing wastewater system has the capacity to process the additional wastewater, it's difficult to see a downside to moving this project forward.

In addition to sustaining the health and vibrancy of the wine country and protecting groundwater, the land-use restrictions put in place by the South Livermore Valley Area Plan and Measure D -- passed two decades ago to protect open space -- would remain in effect with the sewer line expansion.

Should the measure be approved, sewer services would be extended along Buena Vista Avenue between East Avenue and Tesla Road, down Tesla Road and south along part of Greenville Road. However, property owners in that area reserve the option to choose whether they want to connect to it, so there is no imposition on those who don't. (Although, we don't see a reason why they wouldn't want to.)

The need for this expansion stems from the fact that wastewater services in unincorporated areas south of Livermore are served by septic systems and the county has restrictions on the use of septic tanks because of high nitrate concentrations that contaminate groundwater.

These constraints make for limited and expensive wastewater treatment options for commercial and residential land uses. If property owners – including small, family-owned wineries – can't afford to operate in the Livermore Valley, what will they do? Leave or close up shop altogether. Needless to say, that outcome would be detrimental to the local wine industry. 

In its argument opposing the county's Measure D, the Alameda County Taxpayers' Association referenced Measure P, asserting that "Big Wineries" would be the only ones to benefit from the sewer line extension and that small property owners in the area would be left out. However, we've seen a pattern from this group of using sensationalized, tangential arguments as scare tactics to justify their positions in the absence of real evidence or facts.

In addition to the city of Livermore and the Tri-Valley Conservancy – which initially proposed the initiative – Measure P is supported by several other organizations including the chamber of commerce, Visit Tri-Valley, Greenbelt Alliance, the Livermore Valley Wine Community, citizen group Friends of Livermore, Zone 7 Water Agency and now LivermoreVine.com.

To preserve the wine region, groundwater and open space, vote Yes on P.

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