Water Fight On Fort Ord
UC MBEST protests water allocations.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
A University of California economic development center says it won’t be able to expand its campus if the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) depletes its potable water reserve.
The FORA board is expected on Friday, Jan. 12 to permanently split its strategic reserve of 600 acre-feet of water between Seaside, Marina, Del Rey Oaks and Monterey County, leaving UC MBEST out of the deal. In 1998 FORA loaned each jurisdiction an annual 150 acre-feet of water from the reserve. But now all the jurisdictions have flagship projects like golf courses and hotels on the cusp and need the assurance of water for their developers to complete entitlements and obtain financing.
Seaside Mayor Ralph Rubio says the water allocation is imperative for the city to move forward on a 330-room hotel and resort project at Bayonet and Blackhorse Golf Course. “To say the water is only temporary makes it more difficult for the developer and city to gain the financial backing,” Rubio says.
UC MBEST wants to develop its north and west campus for research and development, office, and light industrial uses. The center is a job-generating initiative led by UC Santa Cruz, at the corner of Imjin and Reservation roads in Marina. The problem is that the center a little short on water to file a subdivision map for expansion, says Graham Bice, director of physical planning and development for UC MBEST.
FORA previously allocated UC MBEST 230 acre-feet of potable water, but Bice says it will need one more acre-foot of groundwater and 41 acre feet of recycled water for the project. More water won’t be available until MCWD pumps recycled water on the former military base or builds another desalination facility. The recycled water isn’t expected to come online until 2008, while the desal plant won’t provide water until 2009.
“We are being asked to wait until there is another water source available, and that’s some source of concern on our part,” Bice says.
Jim Feeney, assistant executive officer of FORA, says the water reserve will be allocated to entities with projects ready to go, whereas UC MBEST is still looking for a developer. “They are certainly not at a point of getting something accomplished,” Feeney says.