California American Water Refiles Coastal Commission Application for Water Supply Project
California American Water refiled its application for the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project, to obtain a Coastal Development Permit for a desalination facility, with the California Coastal Commission and urged the commission to schedule a new hearing date as soon as possible.
“We needed to take time to put forth the best possible project for the Monterey Peninsula,” said California American Water president Rich Svindland. “It was a necessary step. It’s made the project better and will help build support from the local community and decision makers.”
Svindland said the company now better understands the concerns raised by commissioners and local stakeholders surrounding social and environmental justice, and that changes have been made accordingly.
The desalination component of the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project relies on source water wells located in the City of Marina. After reimagining the initial proposal, California American Water sent a letter to the City of Marina offering new substantial benefits for the City:
- The ability to receive water from the project,
- Agreement to a franchise fee – typically a monthly percentage fee on customers’ bills paid to City,
- Restoration of the former sand mining plant site where the wells would be located, and
- The ability for the City to own portions of infrastructure needed for the project.
City officials expressed an interest in meeting and engaging in discussions to ensure that these benefits adequately address their concerns.
“We’re eager to listen and find ways to make the City more comfortable with our project,” said Svindland. “The environmental analysis of our project demonstrated our wells will help to slow the advancement of seawater intrusion into the aquifer from which the City gets its water. But we’ve heard that is not enough. We want to find solutions that benefit the region and all stakeholders.”
In addition to the outreach to the City of Marina, the company has also offered to seek approval from the California Public Utilities Commission to expand its ratepayer assistance program to a 50% discount for qualifying customers if the desal project moves ahead.
“There’s no question the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project is a substantial investment for our customers and will impact bills,” explained Svindland. “But it’s needed to meet state restrictions on pumping from the Carmel River, our customers’ current main source for water.”