In the News

Monterey Peninsula, Soquel water districts consider Deep Water Desal study
Analysis would focus on project construction, operations costs

By Jim Johnson, Monterey County Herald, 4/19/14

Intrigued by the promise of a cheaper alternative water source, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and the Soquel Creek Water District could team up on a new study of the Deep Water Desal project proposal at Moss Landing.

On Monday, the Peninsula water district board is set to consider paying for half of a $24,800 study of Deep Water Desal's projected desalination plant facility construction and operations costs. Deep Water Desal is planning a plant capable of delivering about 10,000 acre-feet of potable water a year, which could be expanded to as much as 30,000 acre-feet a year. The water management district has already agreed to pay part of the firm's environmental study and permitting costs as part of an effort to support a back-up plan in case California American Water's proposed north Marina desal plant is delayed or founders.

Kennedy Jenks Consultants would conduct the study using as a baseline the Peninsula water authority-commissioned comparison study by SPI in early 2013 of three area desal projects — including the Cal Am and Deep Water Desal proposals, and Peninsula businessman Nader Agha's People's Moss Landing Desal Project.

According to water management district general manager Dave Stoldt, the Soquel Creek Water District has already agreed to pay for half the study, which the district is pursuing as part of its quest for alternative water supply projects in the wake of the demise of a joint desal project with the city of Santa Cruz.

Deep Water Desal has promoted its plant as a regional water supply, capable of providing water around the Central Coast.

Stoldt said the primary driver for the study was a recent claim by Deep Water Desal and principal Brent Constantz that the proposed plant could deliver water for $1,100 to $1,200 per acre-foot, well below other estimates including those for the Cal Am plant. The study would take aim at evaluating that claim, Stoldt said.

Stoldt said the Deep Water Desal proposal has changed in several ways since the SPI analysis, including a different proposed plant site and alternative intake and outfall plans, prompting the need for a fresh look.

Three of the Peninsula water district board members have already expressed support for the study, including David Pendergrass, Bob Brower and Jeanne Byrne, who voted to recommend approval of the study to the full board at Friday's water supply planning committee meeting.

Pendergrass said it represents a "good investment" for the water management district to support a backup plan, despite general support for the Cal Am project. He said the Peninsula was left out of the failed regional desal project and was left with no alternative when it fell apart.

The committee also recommended the board approve an application to the state water board for rights to a portion of polluted Salinas-area runoff from the Blanco Drain, Reclamation Ditch and Tembladero Slough for the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency's proposed groundwater replenishment project.

The county has already applied for rights to the runoff and proposed building a new recycled water treatment plant to process the water for urban and agricultural uses.

Jim Johnson can be reached at 753-6753.

© 2008-2013 scwd2 Desalination Program, All rights reserved.