A key state regulator on Thursday OK’d an agreement to have California American Water Co. buy future water from the planned Pure Water Monterey Expansion project. The agreement signals a major new water supply for the Monterey Peninsula. Mike McCullough, the director of external affairs for Monterey One Water (M1W), said the authorization defines the terms and conditions for the sale of water from the expansion project.
Key staff from three water organizations along the Monterey Peninsula have apparently reached an agreement on a deal that will send hundreds of acre-feet of new water to California American Water Co. for distribution up and down the Peninsula.
Monterey One Water, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and Cal Am reached an agreement at a joint meeting Wednesday whereby Cal Am agreed to purchase water from Monterey One’s Pure Water Monterey expansion project.
A top State Water Resources Control Board administrator is “strongly encouraging” California American Water to “resolve disputes” and pursue both short-term and long-term water supply solutions for the Monterey Peninsula while pointing out that the Carmel River aquifer pumping cutback order deadline at the end of next year is approaching with no additional water supply project expected to be operational by then.
California American Water has re-filed its desalination project permit application less than two months after withdrawing it on the eve of a special Coastal Commission meeting, While the company made changes to its desal project proposal in the re-filed application, it has not yet met with Marina city officials to resolve the issues prompting the city to oppose the project.
California American Water and Marina city officials are in the process of setting up talks on the company’s desalination project after exchanging letters over the past several weeks. In a Sept. 25 letter, Cal Am president Rich Svindland reached out to Marina officials, proposing talks aimed at resolving differences over the company’s paused desalination project and suggested a series of “possible options that could be mutually beneficial for the city, Cal Am, and the region as a whole.”
Amid mounting controversy and concerns over environmental justice, California American Water on Wednesday withdrew its application for a desalination project in the small Monterey Bay town of Marina.
The proposal had become one of the most fraught issues to come before the California Coastal Commission, which was set to vote Thursday. The decision would have been the first major test of the commission’s new power to review not only harm to the environment when making decisions but also harm to underrepresented communities.
On a barren stretch of Monterey Bay, in a region desperate for fresh water, an oft-overlooked town has little say in whether a big water company can build a desalination operation right on its shore.
Here in Marina, where one-third of the town is low income and many speak little English, industrial facilities have long burdened the landscape. This desalination project would replace a century-old sand mine that has stripped shorebirds and rare butterflies of their home — and the community of an open space where anybody could cool off during a heat wave or enjoy a day by the sea.
Not a drop of this treated water — which would be piped to other cities, businesses and farmers in need — would even be for Marina.
Pure Water Monterey is finally poised to make water available for the Monterey Peninsula, providing a new water supply source for the area while allowing a reduction in Carmel River water usage albeit at a considerably reduced rate to start than was expected.
Last weekend, Monterey One Water announced that it had completed a 1,000-acre-foot recycled water reserve in the Seaside basin and that California American Water could start extracting additional water from the basin equivalent to the amount of recycled water being pumped into the basin beyond the reserve.
Nine months after the Coastal Commission conducted its first hearing on California American Water’s proposed desalination project, commission staff has again recommended denial of the project in favor of a Pure Water Monterey expansion proposal.
On Tuesday, commission staff released a 154-page staff report essentially reiterating its previous arguments against the Cal Am desal project, including its relative cost, environmental impact and controversial nature. It touted the “feasible and environmentally preferable” recycled water project as a viable alternative in the Monterey Peninsula’s long-running attempts to develop a replacement water supply to offset the state ordered Carmel River cutback order.
California American Water officials are defending the company’s proposed desalination project in response to the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District’s move last month to formally oppose it at the Coastal Commission in favor of a proposed recycled water expansion.