California American Water is announcing a phasing plan for the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project, part of a multipronged effort to increase water supply to the Monterey Peninsula through desalination, aquifer storage and recovery, and a groundwater replenishment project in the region. The application currently before the California Coastal Commission calls for development of ocean slant wells to supply a 6.4 million gallon per day desalination plant. The company is proposing a multi-phase plan to develop needed water supplies with the first phase of the desalination facility producing 4.8 million gallons per day.
“The Monterey Peninsula has been in need of additional drought-proof, reliable water supplies for over 25 years,” said Ian Crooks, Vice President of Engineering for California American Water. “Building the first phase of MPWSP will protect the Carmel River ecosystem and create a drought-proof new water supply for our service area.”
California American Water has been conducting extensive outreach to customers, local officials and residents throughout Monterey County. Efforts have included 10 public workshops since August as well as individual meetings and presentations to interested stakeholders. Feedback on the project has highlighted community support for a drought-proof water supply that will allow for new housing construction and support economic development. It has also illuminated the benefits of a flexible phased approach to start the project that can ultimately accommodate future needs and provide opportunity for regional public participation when additional supplies are needed in California American Water’s service area or elsewhere in the region.
The desalination facility will include a system of ocean slant wells constructed on a former industrial sand mining site to draw unusable seawater, deliver that saline water to a desalination plant located in Monterey County, and send desalinated water directly to the Monterey Peninsula for municipal uses within California American Water’s service area. Ocean slant wells are the preferred method to obtain water for desalination since they draw ocean water from beneath the coastal subsurface, which avoids harm to the environment and marine life. Reducing the initial size of the facility will limit the number of ocean slant wells needed at this time and help control construction costs while ensuring that the project can accommodate future water resource needs.
“Phasing the MPWSP strikes the right balance to meet the critical need for sufficient and reliable drought-proof water supply to meet demands in the near term while allowing for additional supply as it becomes needed over the next 30 years,” said Crooks. “In addition, as we heard from the community, phasing the project with the possibility of expanding the project to accommodate future regional water supply needs through public participation is important. This is a win-win for the region that provides an opportunity to help MPWSP be part of future water supply solutions for our customers and nearby communities.”
Due to historic water shortages caused by mandated reductions in the use of the Carmel River and made worse by historic drought conditions, a building moratorium has been in place on the Monterey Peninsula, resulting in job loss and limited housing for people in the region.