Deep State

As environmental review for California American Water’s proposed desalination project nears completion, another proposed desal project – though not a competing one, necessarily – is quietly making strides.

On March 5, Deepwater Desal – a proposed desal project in Moss Landing that would utilize an open-ocean intake 130 feet deep in the Monterey Canyon – announced the completion of part of a key study. It shows both the proposed point of intake for source water and the location for brine discharge do not support a rich marine habitat, a key concern for regulators.

To date, 33 of 35 studies have been completed for the project’s environmental review, Deepwater spokesman David Armanasco says. He says nearly $12 million has been spent on the project, and a draft environmental impact report is expected to be released this year.

Deepwater’s studies, which have been ongoing for four-plus years, have been an entirely different animal than Cal Am’s, which has been closely monitoring groundwater impacts in Marina. Rather, Deepwater has sent remote-operated vehicles underwater to collect samples and take video documentation of the intake and discharge locations.

“We had no big surprises,” Deepwater General Manager Kim Adamson says.

Deepwater’s proposed desal plant, which would be located north of Dolan Road and south of Moon Glow Dairy, is also far bigger than Cal Am’s. It would produce 25,000 acre-feet of water annually, most of which is already locked up in contracts.

Monterey Peninsula Water Management District has the first right of refusal for up to 9,000 acre-feet of water annually if Cal Am’s desal project gets derailed by litigation, although General Manager Dave Stoldt says the district would only potentially need up to 6,200 acre-feet on account of recycled water from Pure Water Monterey.

Armanasco estimates Deepwater could sell water to Peninsula ratepayers at about $2,000 per acre-foot (not including the pipes to get it there, which Stoldt estimates at $500 per acre-foot). That’s well below the projected cost, around $3,900 per acre-foot, from Cal Am’s project.

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(1) comment

Joe Geever

These Deepwater guys have been trying to push this idea since before the new state regulations were adopted. They have it backwards. To get a permit they have to prove sub-surface intakes (like the wells CalAm is studying) aren't feasible.
Regulators AREN'T interested the studies Deepwater is spending so much money on. All desal facilities HAVE to use subsurface intakes unless they go through a series of studies to prove they aren't feasible. Deepwater knows this. The State Water Board rejected their arguments when the regulations were adopted.

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