news - Running to Runoff

Once P.G.’s five-part stormwater project is done, Sarah Hardgrave says, little to no urban runoff will discharge into the bay.

The city of Pacific Grove can’t wait around for a regional desalination plant to solve its water problems.

Facing an order from the state water board to stop discharging polluted runoff into the protected waters of Monterey Bay, P.G. is working with neighboring Monterey on a five-part proposal to clean up their water act and free up some sorely needed flow in the process.

The most ambitious missions of the stormwater management project: to repurpose a California American Water corporate yard on David Avenue into a reservoir, and to renovate an abandoned wastewater treatment plant at Point Pinos back into productivity.

Two other components would add storm drain conveyance pipes, pumps and water-storage facilities on Pine Avenue and Ocean View Boulevard. The project would also upgrade the city’s infrastructure to send more stormwater, in both the dry and wet seasons, to the regional wastewater treatment plant in Marina.

P.G. is collaborating on the project with Monterey, which adds 103 acres of runoff to the 848 P.G. acres flowing into the so-called “Pacific Grove Area of Special Biological Significance” (ASBS). An order from the State Water Resources Control Board requires both cities to eliminate all dry-weather and some wet-weather flows into the ASBS, and to follow up with monitoring.

“As a matter of nature and physics, we are together on this,” Monterey City Engineer Tom Reeves says.

P.G. Environmental Programs Manager Sarah Hardgrave says the David Avenue reservoir could capture stormwater above Pine Avenue and send it through a new storm drain to a renovated Point Pinos wastewater treatment plant, which operated from the early 1950s to the late 1970s. Once treated, the water could irrigate the municipal golf course and cemetery, which currently use about 125 acre-feet of potable Cal Am water a year.

Water downstream of Pine Avenue would be routed to the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency treatment plant in Marina. The facility currently receives P.G.’s dry-weather flows, but the project would expand the system to handle about 85 percent of the city’s wet-weather stormwater as well.

Reeves says the project could score a “triple win” by satisfying the state ASBS mandate, creating open community space at the reservoir and producing a new water supply. “In this world of public works and stormwater, it’s a pretty exciting prospect we’ve got here,” he says.

There’s also a benefit beyond city limits: By recycling stormwater for irrigation, the P.G. project would reduce demand on the larger Cal Am system. “What it would mean is we could run the [proposed] desal plant less,” company spokeswoman Catherine Bowie says.

The project planning has been funded with $200,000 from Monterey’s Neighborhood Improvement Project, plus a matching grant from the Integrated Regional Water Management plan.

A public scoping meeting on the five-part project is set for Oct. 24 at 6pm at P.G. City Hall. Comments on potential environmental impacts are due to the city by Nov. 1.  

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