Live Blogging the Water Forum
October 26, 2011
The Q&A session with our media panel just wrapped up and it's on to public comments. We've heard from a few regulars, including George Riley of Citizens for Public Water and David Dilworth of Helping Our Peninsula's Environment.
But some of the most poignant questions are the least wonky. How many new jobs will these alternatives produce? one audience member asks.
Deep Water Desal says it would be a wild guess at this point, but pointman Constantz says he'd hire people locally like he did with cement plant Calera.
No real answers from anyone else.
Shocker of the evening: No more public comments. We leave early. Look to the Weekly for ongoing coverage of this neverending water drama.
Cal Am keeps referring to "the cliff:" the December 2016 deadline at which the state threatens to cut off the Carmel River water supply by 70 percent.
"Everything has to go perfect for all of these to work," Svindland says.
Also, he notes, California Environmental Quality Act documentation, water rights, California Public Utilities Commission approval and a Coastal Commission development permit are needed for any one of the alternatives that moves forward.
The options that have a chance of not falling off the cliff (i.e., meeting the 2016 schedule), Svindland says, are alternatives 1, 2, 6, 10 and 11.
Consultant RBF's recommendation:
Tweak the existing CPUC water project environmental impact report and re-apply for a revised permit to pursue Alternative 1.
With CPUC and other necessary permits, move forward with Alternative 1, but scale the Regional Desalination Plan down from 10 million to 7.5 million gallons per day in the first phase. Tool everything to expand up to 10 million if needed.
Keep looking at other available water supply options that could replace that 2.5 million gallon-per-day desal plant expansion.
Out to ask questions now.
Now Cal Am Engineering Director Richard Svindland takes the mic to break down the basics:
First, the amount of water we need to replace due to the state order to stop overpumping the Carmel River: 10,100 acre-feet per year, through desal and aquifer storage and recovery.
Alternatives were chosen based on based on the desalination, aquifer storage and recovery (ASR), groundwater recharge and the Salinas River.
Here they are:
The Marina Desal Plant (aka the Regional Project), producing 10 million gallons per day, plus ASR at 1,300 acre-feet per year.
A 6.5 million gallon-per-day desal plant, plus MRWPCA groundwater replenishment at 2,700 acre-feet per year.
A 35 million gallon-per-day lower Carmel Valley filtration plant plus 6,900 acre-feet per year of expanded ASR.
A 24 million gallon-per-day lower Carmel Valley filtration plant plus 11,100 acre-feet per year of expanded ASR plus 2,700 AFA of groundwater replenishment.
A 32 million gallon-per-day lower Carmel Valley filtration plant plus a 3.5 million gallon-per-day Marina desal plant plus 5,500 acre-feet per year of extended ASR.
A 35 million gallon-per-day lower Carmel Valley filtration plant plus expansion of the Sand City desal plant to 1 million gallons per day, plus 6,500 acre-feet per year of extended ASR.
A 32 million gallon-per-day lower Carmel Valley filtration plant plus a 3 million gallon-per-day desal plant near the Naval Postgraduate School, plus 5,200 acre-feet per year of extended ASR.
A 20 million gallon-per-day iron removal plan on the lower Carmel River, plus a 5 million gallon-per-day desal plant near the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, plus 5,100 acre-feet per year of extended ASR.
A 35 million gallon-per-day Salinas River filtration plant, plus 6,900 acre-feet per year of extended ASR.
A 10 million gallon-per-day “Deep Water Desalination” plant near Moss Landing, plus 1,300 acre-feet per year of extended ASR.
A 5 million gallon-per-day Marina Desalination Plant, plus 2,700 acre-feet of MRWPCA groundwater rechargee, 2,700 acre-feet per year of extended ASR/injection dilution, and 1,500 acre-feet per year of conservation.
But for those audience members who may have been drifting off, Nader Agha's team demands attention with a video presentation of Plan E: "The People's Moss Landing Water Desal Project," the newest competitor on the Desal Gravy Train.
Opening cuts: streams flowing, birds flocking, and strums from a guitar as children sing, "Water is life…"
Agha argues that 14 existing storage tanks, a 12 KV electrical system and intake/outfall pipes on the site will reduce capital costs. Solar energy will reduce the energy costs by 50%, he says, among other green promises. He's already hired a consultant to prepare an environmental impact report for the project at no cost to Cal Am ratepayers, he says.
A note from the peanut gallery: Agha once backed Plan D, the Deep Water Desal plan pushed by his tenants at the Moss Landing Green Business Park. Suddenly he's no longer behind that project and is instead offering his own, competing water supply project.
Once the video's heartwarming credit song fades out, Agha takes the mic and says he has 3.5% financing lined up. Why look at other desal sites when his own property already has all the infrastructure? he asks. "For the life of me, I don't know why everyone isn't dancing and jumping around and tango," he says.
After the forum's introduction by Monterey Mayor Chuck Della Sala on behalf of the six Peninsula cities that will be most screwed by the water supply crisis—Carmel, Del Rey Oaks, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Sand City and Seaside—it's on to half-hour presentations by four entities bold enough to offer water supply proposals. If the Regional Project is Plan A, let's call these Plans B through E.
Plan B: Monterey Peninsula Water Management District has a matrix of alternative water projects, some of them already in the works: a two-phase project to expand aquifer storage and recovery; a partnership with the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency to recycle more wastewater; a small desalination plant on Naval Postgraduate School property; and dredging Los Padres Dam.
Plan C: Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency is launching a campaign to build a new water recycling plant, also known as groundwater replenishment. Much of their focus is on convincing the audience that it's not gross to drink cleaned-up wastewater that's been purified through a number of high-tech means. “This is about the purest water you can get," MRWPCA General Manager Keith Israel says.
Plan D: Deep Water Desal is a private company in Moss Landing proposing to draw ocean water from the Monterey Submarine Canyon. Company owner Brent Constanz says this solution will be particularly key as climate change drives more drought in the Monterey Bay area.
It's a rapt audience at Monterey Conference Center's Steinbeck Forum tonight. There are about 250 people here for a 4.5-hour briefing of the fall-back plans we can pursue if—some would say while—the Regional Desalination Project fails.
Yep, that's 4.5 hours, 6-10:30pm. Back in the media panel room, there's some eye-rolling over the marathon length. The timing was Monterey City Manager Fred Meurer's decision, we're told.