California’s Water Code gives the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) the responsibility of protecting its ocean water quality by controlling waste discharges and the intake of seawater. It also requires that the California Ocean Plan be reviewed every three years to guarantee that the current standards are adequate and not allowing marine species degradation or posing a public health threat. The plan was last amended to address desalination facility intakes and brine discharges in May 2015, and went into effect in January 2016.
Despite interest from state’s Department of Water Resources and a $1.4 million grant from the Bureau of Reclamation, the San Diego County Water Authority’s $2.5 million intake testing program for the proposed Camp Pendleton Seawater Desal Project has apparently been cancelled. Last week, in a letter to the State Lands Commission, the Water Authority’s general manager Maureen Stapleton said that the Authority intended to “withdraw our application for State lands Commission approval due to the extraordinary permitting challenges created by State Lands Commission staff, that go above and beyond the statutory and regulatory requirements for this project.”