Despite claims to the contrary, the three regional desalination plant proposals competing for the Monterey Peninsula's business—California American Water's Water Supply Project, developer Nader Agha's People's Project and entrepreneur Brent Constantz's DeepWater Desal—would cost about the same. Or at least within a couple hundred dollars per acre-foot.
That's one finding in a draft report by Separation Processes, Inc., a Carlsbad-based consultant hired by the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority to evaluate the three desal proposals.
Assuming an annual output of 9,000 acre-feet of desalinated water per year, SPI finds that the Cal Am desal water will cost $2,555 per acre-foot; the DeepWater Desal water will cost $2,395 per acre-foot; and the People's Project water will cost $2,345 per acre-foot.
The finding is a sharp contrast to claims by Agha and Constantz that they could produce water at a much cheaper rate than Cal Am.
The report finds no "fatal flaws" in any of the three proposals. But it gives Cal Am's proposal one very critical advantage over the other two, concluding it's the only one that could come online close to the December 2016 deadline, when the state mandates a 70 percent cutback in pumping from the Carmel River.
Cal Am's desal plant could start up by mid-2017, according to SPI's evaluation. DeepWater Desal could come online by early 2018, and the People's Project in early 2019.
Since timing is everything when it comes to a new water supply on the Monterey Peninsula, the report could wield significant clout in swaying local agencies to support Cal Am's proposal.