Water Management District Backs Cal Am Desal—With Conditions
February 13, 2013
The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District board last night weighed in on the Peninsula's search for desalinated water supply.
The board affirmed by a 6-0 vote its preference for publicly owned desal plant. But, on the strong likelihood the Public Utilities Commission approves California American Water's privately owned Water Supply Project, the board laid a framework for conditional support, based on the conditions outlined Jan. 31 by the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority. The highlights:
- a public governance committee providing local input and transparency in desal project decision-making;
- some contribution of public funds through the district to reduce ratepayer costs;
- a requirement that Cal Am's requested $99 million surcharge for Peninsula ratepayers be dedicated to low-risk, tangible assets and subject to the PUC's "stranded cost recovery policy" if the project doesn't move forward.
The water district board also voted to support the larger desalination plant size requested by Cal Am. The 700-1,000 acre-foot increase factors in a projected bump in tourism, accelerated replenishment of the Seaside Basin, the planned Pebble Beach build-out and other developments in the pipeline.
The district will continue to look at alternative water supplies in case a regional desal plant is stalled or stopped by litigation.
Also yesterday, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors appointed Supervisor Dave Potter to represent the county on the MPRWA governance committee. The other two reps would come from the Peninsula water district and the MPRWA, which consists of the mayors of six Peninsula cities.
If approved by all three entities and Cal Am, the governance committee is expected to be formalized by Friday.
(Above: Water Management District General Manager David Stoldt stands at the site of an aquifer storage and recovery well, part of Cal Am's multifaceted plan for a new Monterey Peninsula water supply. Photo by Nic Coury.)