To Be Continued...
Coastal Commission to Vote on Desal in March

By Melodie Chrislock

It was quite a day. The Coastal Commission hearing on Cal Am’s desal ran 7 hours! Over 200 people opposing Cal Am’s desal attended and many spoke. We made our case loud and clear, DENY Cal Am’s desal, SUPPORT the Pure Water Monterey Expansion. Watch the Califronia Coastal Commission Hearing.

Why was there no vote?

It’s not unusual for the Commissioners to need more than one hearing to make a final decision on complex projects. But it appears it was the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) who raised questions and asked for a delay on the vote. Interesting that only now, when this project is on the edge of failure does the CPUC want to take another look.

The Coastal Commission will likely vote on this at their next meeting, March 11-13 in Santa Cruz. Unfortunately this gives Cal Am time to maneuver with the CPUC and the State Water Resources Control Board.

We don't need it. We can't afford it!

We will only need another 781 acre-feet of water to meet the CDO deadline to stop overpumping the Carmel River once Pure Water Monterey Phase 1 starts delivering its 3,500 acre-feet to the Seaside Basin next month. The expansion of Pure Water Monterey could meet that need, but Cal Am is refusing to buy this water, essentially holding our community’s water supply hostage.

Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contary, Cal Am continues to claim that the Pure Water Monterey Expansion is not enough water and is not drought proof. The Water Management District’s recent Supply and Demand Report proves Cal Am wrong on both counts.

When the facts are not on Cal Am’s side, it resorts to the “lie repeated a thousand times” strategy. Cal Am stands to make $120 million in profit on this desal. You’ll be hearing plenty of misinformation over the next four months. Maybe we’ll even start seeing all those mailers again!

No water crisis will result if this desal plant is not built. The Pure Water Monterey Expansion can give us all the water we need for 20 to 40 years for about $1 billion less than Cal Am’s desal, and this recycled water project is drought proof. It can meet the CDO deadline and lift the moratorium on new water hookups with plenty of water for growth.

Can Politics Trump a Cost Effective Water Supply for the Peninsula?

Cal Am has two allies on the Monterey One Water Board, Supervisor John Phillips and Del Rey Oaks City Councilman, John Gaglioti. They are trying to defeat the Pure Water Monterey Expansion from the inside. That’s right. They’ve been trying to sabotage their own public agency’s project in favor of Cal Am’s desal.

But why? Phillips’ District includes Castroville and it has a major seawater intrusion problem.

The groundwater this desal would draw contains fresh and brackish water. Cal Am’s desal plant, by law, must return the fresh water it takes in the desalination process to the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin. Cal Am ratepayers will pay for this desalinated water at $6,000 to $8,000 an acre-foot and then Cal Am will basically gift it to Castroville for $150 an acre-foot.

So Phillips solves Castroville’s problem for free at the expense of the Peninsula. Why is the Peninsula being asked to fix this problem? Why not ask those who created Castroville’s seawater intrusion problem in the first place?

It’s crazy to ask Cal Am ratepayers to spend $1.2 billion for a desal plant they don’t need in order to fix a seawater intrusion problem they didn’t create. But that’s exactly what Supervisor Phillips wants to do and Councilman Gaglioti is backing him all the way, against the interests of Gaglioti’s Del Rey Oaks constituents.

Stay tuned. The next four months are critical.

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