Controversy develops over use of water to suppress dust in Candlestick Park demolition

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - As the demolition of Candlestick Park moves into its third month, there's an unexpected controversy over using drinking water to suppress demolition dust.

Friday afternoon, folks who live on Jamestown Avenue, next to Candlestick Park, partied to celebrate their new community park, decorative median and view area. "We are celebrating the first renaissance of Candlestick," said Candlestick Point resident Shirley Moore.

But, for the last two months, right down the street, the contractor tearing down Candlestick Park has been suppressing dust with huge amounts of water.

The water is required by contract to minimize dust getting into the surrounding community.

"Knocking down the old stadium and dust flying everywhere, and they're shooting water down on it to control the dust from spreading," says Tyrone Jue, a spokesman for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

But since the water is fully treated drinking water, that has drawn the ire of some folks here and elsewhere concerned about the drought.

That's because nearby there are unlimited supplies of free, recycled water from a sewage treatment plant.

When the community decided against imploding Candlestick, the concept of demolition was brought up.

But, demolition has its own set of rules, especially as it relates to suppression of dust with water.

"You can't spray water and have the water be airborne and that's not a permissible use of recycled water. They would not be able to use recycled water for that and they have to use potable water." says Jue.

But, retired college professor and local resident Raymond Thompkins says what's really needed is a lot more water.

He says right now too much dust is still getting into neighborhoods where asthma and respiratory illness are the highest in the city.

"If you drive down here, right in front, you'll see all the dirt and dust blowing. It is not something we're making up," says Dr. Thompkins.

He also says recycled water that would be further disinfected onsite, could provide all the safe water necessary and save drinking water.

For its part, the contractor, Lennar Urban, says it's obliged to follow the law and will continue to use the potable water.