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Cal Am’s test slant well in Marina. 

Less than a day before the California Coastal Commission was set to start a hearing about a desalination plant near Marina, the project’s sponsor, California American Water, withdrew its application request, saying it would resubmit the application in the future. 

In a statement, Cal Am President Rich Svindland referenced the growing criticism of the project over its impact on communities of color in Marina, who already live near a disproportionate amount of the region’s industrial facilities. 

“Many factors contributed to our decision to withdraw,” Svindland said. “We recognize the social and environmental justice concerns and want to spend more time with Marina stakeholders on those issues, as well as with our own customers on our proposed enhanced customer assistance program. Because the Commission must meet deadlines associated with the Permit Streamlining Act, withdrawing and refiling our application is the best way to allow more time for these things to occur.

“We certainly feel this decision to withdraw and refile our application is in the best interest of our customers and increases the likelihood of receiving the permits necessary to construct the project. We will keep the State Water Board informed of these events and believe this decision supports our intent to decrease pumping on the on the river as quickly as possible while ensuring our customers have an adequate water supply.”

The Coastal Commission meeting scheduled for tomorrow has been canceled as a result. Both supporters and opponents of the desalination plant had been rallying people to speak during the public comment period. 

Asaf Shalev is a staff writer at the Monterey County Weekly. He covers the environment, agriculture and K-12 education, as well as Seaside, Marina, Sand City, Big Sur and Carmel Valley.

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