We're Making Serious Progress
There's great progress on both the water supply and the public buyout of Cal Am.
First, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) has filed its application with LAFCO to activate their latent authority to sell water retail and run a water company. That's the final step before MPWMD can make an initial buyout offer. They will be updating their initial appraisal over the next few months. Once LAFCO approves the application, MPWMD will make Cal Am an offer. That could happen by late summer. If Cal Am refuses to sell, the MPWMD board would then vote on moving forward with an eminent domain buyout. They have the five votes necessary to approve the use of eminent domain.
Pure Water Monterey Expansion Moves Ahead
The other big news is that the Monterey One Water (M1W) board is likely to vote on the Pure Water Monterey Expansion SEIR certification in April after the SEIR is updated. With the new makeup of the M1W board, there's little doubt it will be certified.
Once that happens, only a Water Purchase Agreement from Cal Am is needed to obtain financing and begin building the Expansion. In 21 months, the Expansion could be completed, the moratorium lifted, and our decades of water shortage would be history.
This is hard-won progress on a new water supply. But the big question is, once the Monterey One Water board certifies the project, will Cal Am buy the water. Financing to build the Expansion depends on having a buyer for this water. Will Cal Am sign a Water Purchase Agreement?
Why would they refuse? This water is available and urgently needed. The 2,250 acre-feet of recycled water from the Expansion would give the Peninsula enough water for decades of growth, jobs, and new housing. The problem for Cal Am is that it would make its proposed desal plant unnecessary. Cal Am is counting on big profits from desal. That's the only reason they have been blocking the Expansion all along. Will Cal Am finally do the right thing or continue to hold this community's water supply hostage?
The Coastal Commission has rejected Cal Am's recent desal permit application as incomplete. Their application was withdrawn last September and then resubmitted. But until it's complete, the Coastal Commission won’t hear it. There is no vote scheduled at this time.
Pure Water Monterey Phase One Proves Successful
There's great news on the initial Pure Water Monterey project. It's now producing and injecting 300 acre-feet a month into the Seaside Basin. Cal Am is using this water. And once the two additional deep injection wells come online in November 2021 and February 2022, there will be more than the planned 3,500 acre-feet available to Cal Am.
The beauty of expanding Pure Water Monterey for an additional 2,250 acre-feet is that this water would be stored in the Seaside Groundwater Basin. We won't need all this water for many years. In the meantime, it could build up thousands of acre-feet of reserve and at the same time protect the Seaside Basin from seawater intrusion.
It's been a dry year so far, and come December, the State's CDO restrictions on pumping from the Carmel River will finally kick in. But the good news is that with the 3,500 acre-feet from Pure Water Monterey and 1,290 acre-feet of stored ASR (Aquifer Storage and Recovery) water from the previous year, the Peninsula will be able to meet its current demand without illegally over pumping the Carmel River.
PWN Managing Director