A bill sponsored by U.S. Sens. Martha McSally and Kyrsten
Sinema would put aside hundreds of millions of dollars for
water storage projects, water recycling, and desalination
plants. … The bill is also sponsored by California Democratic
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Colorado Republican Senator Cory
What is at stake is the water supply for the Monterey
Peninsula. Consuming water drawn from the Carmel River is no
longer feasible, neither ecologically nor legally. But the
power to decide on an alternative supply is largely vested in
the hands of public officials from outside the region.
Pure Water Monterey, the highly touted recycled water project,
is in default on a water purchase agreement with California
American Water after failing to meet a Monday deadline for
delivering potable water even as the project’s costs rise amid
From sea to shining sea may take on a new meaning in
California, as state officials are reviewing billion dollar
plans to import water from Mexico’s Sea of Cortez to help raise
water levels at the Salton Sea.
Cal Am, two members of the Coastal Commission and two local
appellants are challenging the Marina city Planning
Commission’s March 7 denial of a coastal development permit for
the $329 million desal project, including seven slant source
water wells and associated infrastructure
The facility would serve two main purposes. In addition to
weaning Camarillo customers off imported water from Calleguas
Municipal Water District, it would also help filter out the
everincreasing amount of salt found in the plumes of water
beneath much of the eastern half of the city.
An affiliate of Aberdeen Standard Investments has agreed to buy
the Carlsbad desalination plant in Southern California for more
than $1 billion, according to people with knowledge of the
matter. A transaction could be announced as soon as this week,
said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because
the matter is private.
The desalination plant would have seven wells sloping into the
ground and sucking up water underneath the dunes, removing the
salt, and sending it to cities on the Monterey Peninsula …
but not Marina. They wouldn’t get any of the desalinated water
because they’re not served by CalAm. Biala and other Marina
residents oppose the plant because they think it will cause
irreversible damage to their town’s ecosystems.
The slower timeline for Huntington Beach resulted in it facing
new, stricter regulations and additional delays. The
controversial plant still needs two major permits, opponents
remain steadfast and a recent water-supply study raised
questions about the cost and need for the project.
The organization best known for backing a public takeover of
Cal Am’s local [Monterey Peninsula] water system filed an
appeal of the Planning Commission’s narrow approval of a permit
for the 6.4-million-gallon-per-day desal plant north of Marina
and associated infrastructure. The appeal argues the desal
project proposal fails to properly address several key details,
including groundwater rights, and calls for the county to
require a supplemental environmental review before considering
The combination of droughts and floods has given rise to a
process known as saltwater intrusion — what San Jose Mayor Sam
Liccardo refers to as his city’s greatest climate threat. …
In coastal regions like San Jose, overpumping allows seawater
to seep into the city’s aquifers, exposing local residents to
excess sodium in their drinking water. The problem is
compounded by sea level rise, which pushes seawater inland
toward the city’s filtration system.
Poseidon Water, owner of the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad
Desalination Plant, has received an updated permit from the San
Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (SDRWQCB) governing
the desalination plant’s discharges into the Pacific Ocean.
Additionally, the permit includes structural and operational
changes to provide greater protection for marine life and water
A brackish water study conducted by consulting firm Aqualogic
has predicted three potential areas that can be tapped for
brackish water extraction in the Indian Wells Valley. … The
brackish water project has the potential to help expand local
supplies if the water is properly treated and brine removed.
Coastal Commission staff on Monday reiterated to The Herald
that Cal Am can appeal the city’s denial under the state’s
Coastal Act because the city charges an appeal fee. They called
the city’s own rules “internally inconsistent” and noted the
Coastal Act’s regulations supercede local ones.
We have learned over the last six years that the water need for
Santa Cruz to meet its own annual demand is 1.1 billion gallons
less than thought in 2014, when the two districts were pursuing
the desalination plant.
People are interested in California water problems, and they
ask reasonable questions. Here is a first installment of short
science-based answers to some reasonable questions often heard
at public and private discussions of water in California.
Even as stakeholders in the Colorado River Basin celebrate the recent completion of an unprecedented drought plan intended to stave off a crashing Lake Mead, there is little time to rest. An even larger hurdle lies ahead as they prepare to hammer out the next set of rules that could vastly reshape the river’s future.
Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict.
It was the best attended city council meeting that didn’t
happen. … But when everyone filed into City Hall, no
councilmembers were in sight. Only Assistant City Attorney
Deborah Mall appeared. She said Cal Am had withdrawn its appeal
at the last minute on April 29 and the council could not
proceed with a hearing.
Poseidon Water might be fighting for its desalination future in
Huntington Beach, but the corporation’s representatives will be
in front of the California Coastal Commission for an entirely
different matter on May 9: the restoration and conversion of a
90.9-acre salt pond to tidal wetlands and 34.6-acrer Otay River
floodplain site in San Diego.
In one key respect, California is lagging behind many other
parts of the world. Climate change is causing drought and water
shortages everywhere, but California has been slow to adopt a
solution that over 120 countries are using: desalination.
Cal Am announced it had been told by city officials its request
for the mayor and two council members to recuse themselves due
to alleged bias against the desal project would not be honored.
The company will now appeal the commission’s denial directly to
the Coastal Commission.
Citing long-running efforts to secure a new Monterey Peninsula
water supply and the state-imposed deadline for reducing
unauthorized water usage, the county Planning Commission
approved California American Water’s desalination plant north
of Marina on Wednesday.
Since Jim Madaffer became chairman of the board of the San
Diego County Water Authority, two long-time staffers have left
and talk has begun heating up about a multibillion-dollar
tunnel project to give San Diego a second connection to water
from the Colorado River. The tunnel plan would be the single
largest, most expensive and complex project the Water Authority
has ever attempted.
Considered by many the key to long-running efforts to cut
unauthorized pumping from the Carmel River, California American
Water’s proposed desalination plant project is headed to the
Monterey County Planning Commission next week. On Wednesday,
the commission is set to conduct a public hearing on a combined
development permit for the proposed 6.4-million-gallon-per-day
Cal Am is seeking California Public Utilities Commission
approval to start raising local customers’ rates by May 11 to
pay for the 7-mile pipeline from Seaside to Pacific Grove,
which is in operation and is designed to allow pumping of new
desalinated and recycled water sources from the Seaside basin
to local customers.
When you turn on a faucet on the Monterey Peninsula, you’re
consuming water that’s been illegally pumped from Carmel River.
Now, after more than two decades of this, scores of public
officials, utility executives and citizen advocates are working
– and sometimes fighting – to replace the region’s water supply
before state-mandated sanctions kick in. California American
Water is forging ahead with its plan: a desalination plant near
Construction starts this month on a $1.5 million test well to
show whether desalinated groundwater could supplement the
drinking water supply for 86,000 customers of the Olivenhain
Municipal Water District. The district serves parts of
Encinitas, Carlsbad, San Diego, San Marcos, Solana Beach and
neighboring communities, and relies almost entirely on water
imported from the Colorado River and Northern California.
As a result of California’s outdated water infrastructure and
persistent droughts, some elected leaders are shifting the
focus to investing in seawater desalination to help address the
state’s water crisis. While less than half a dozen desalination
plants currently exist in the state, the idea is gaining
momentum and greater support at the state level.
San Diego water customers will soon pay $6 to $13 more a month
to fund the first part of the city’s new recycled water
project, according to a newly released estimate. The city is
working on a multibillion-dollar plan to purify enough sewage
to provide a third of the city’s drinking water by 2035.
The city is suiting up for construction of a new facility later
this year that will purify recycled water to create a new,
local source of drinking water for residents by 2022. Pure
Water Oceanside is a water purification system that aims to
reduce the city’s reliance on imported water, improve
groundwater resources, increase local water supply and
strengthen the city’s resiliency to drought and climate change
in an environmentally sound process.
Antioch’s plan to build a long-awaited brackish desalination
plant got a major boost this week when the City Council
officially accepted a $10 million state grant that will pay
toward design and construction. The city’s grant was one of
three statewide to be awarded in March 2018 from the Department
of Water Resources for desalination projects under Proposition
The City of Oceanside is taking control of its water destiny,
investing in a facility to purify recycled water from homes.
“It’s not being used, it’s really a waste. A lot of that water
is going out to the ocean and it’s really a precious resource,”
said Cari Dale, Water Utilities Director for the city. This
Fall they’ll break ground on the Pure Water Oceanside facility,
which will sit right next to the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation
The Regional Water Quality Control Board … detailed a
specific timeline for the board’s permit process — with a final
vote penciled in for Oct. 25. Poseidon Vice President Scott
Maloni interpreted that as a signal that board geologists,
engineers and administrators are confident they can work
through outstanding issues.
The only Monterey Peninsula city with its own desalination
plant is looking to install new intake wells to help balance
the salinity levels and increase output to the
300-acre-foot-per-year design capacity of the almost
10-year-old Sand City desalination facility. The plant, which
is owned by Sand City and is operated by California American
Water, is currently running at 200 acre-feet per year.
The city of Oceanside is receiving more than $2.6 million in
federal funding to increase its local water supply and to
reduce brine discharge into the ocean. The city will receive
$2.623 million in funding from the Bureau of Reclamation’s
WaterSMART’s Desalination Construction Projects under the Water
Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN), subject
to federal appropriations.
A week after the Marina Planning Commission unanimously
rejected a key desalination project permit, California American
Water has filed an appeal of the decision to the Marina City
Council. On Wednesday, Cal Am filed the appeal to the council,
arguing the planning commission erred in its denial of a
coastal development permit for parts of the proposed desal
A recently completed study on the cost effectiveness and
financial risk of proposals to meet water supply demands
through 2050 concludes that the controversial Poseidon
desalination project in Huntington Beach would produce more
water than the Orange County basin needs and cost ratepayers
far more than alternatives such as recycling and capturing
To make a real structural shift, utilities must engage a
broader group of actors in the process, and that is where cap
and trade comes into play, this time for water systems. … A
smattering of cap-and-trade schemes already aim to address
water pollution in various water bodies. Yet most such trading
programmes have focused on water quality. Now their frameworks
must be expanded to account for water quantity, encouraging
efficiency, reinvestment, and supply diversification.
Oceanside announced it will receive a $2.6 million federal
grant to build two more of the wells that the city has used for
more than 20 years to supply a portion of its drinking water.
The wells pump brackish water from what’s called the Mission
Basin, an area near the airport, the old swap meet property and
the San Luis Rey River. The city filters the water using the
same reverse osmosis process used on a much larger scale in
Carlsbad to desalinate seawater.
One tunnel or two, neither idea adds a drop of the water to
needs of the nearly 40 million people who call California home.
The tunnels simply divert existing water supplies while putting
in severe jeopardy the largest freshwater estuary west of the
Mississippi River, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that
juts into the western edge of Stockton. Clearly, there must be
better solutions. Three approaches leap to mind: storage,
conservation and desalination.
Although Santa Monica may be the most aggressive Southern California water provider to wean itself from imported supplies, it is hardly the only one looking to remake its water portfolio.
In Los Angeles, a city of about 4 million people, efforts are underway to dramatically slash purchases of imported water while boosting the amount from recycling, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup and conservation. Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014 announced a plan to reduce the city’s purchase of imported water from Metropolitan Water District by one-half by 2025 and to provide one-half of the city’s supply from local sources by 2035. (The city considers its Eastern Sierra supplies as imported water.)
The new administration has signaled a shift in water policy by
specifically talking about turning salty water potable after
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said he would support only a single
tunnel as part of the project known as WaterFix. … But
talking up desalination is much easier than making it a
reality. In the four years since California updated its
desalination regulations, none of the eight applications for
new or expanded facilities has been approved. Meanwhile, the
costs for the projects keep rising and the state has few
details about its plans.
As Californians, I believe we must look west to the Pacific
Ocean, where seawater desalination offers a proven, climate
change-resilient solution. No longer do we need verification
from Israel, the Middle East and Australia, where desalination
facilities have literally helped save lives and fend off
debilitating droughts due of climate change. Now, we can look
much closer to home — in San Diego.
In a recent paper, Stephanie Pincetl, director of the
California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA, and
co-authors argue that investments made over the years to
fortify the city’s supply with additional imported water have
not solved LA’s water shortages. … The paper asserts that LA
could become water self-reliant by strategically investing in
local supplies, and offers several concrete strategies for
improving LA’s water security.
A leader in a grassroots group pushing for interagency
transfers to solve regional water supply shortfalls has filed
an environmental lawsuit against Soquel Creek Water District.
The civil lawsuit … takes aim at the water district’s Pure
Water Soquel project, which its board of
directors approved in December. The suit points to alleged
shortcomings in Pure Water Soquel’s state-mandated
environmental impact report.
A partnership between Monterey One Water and the Monterey
Peninsula Water Management District, the project is designed to
produce up to 3,500 acre-feet of highly treated water per year
to the Peninsula for injection into the Seaside basin and later
extraction and use by California American Water for its
Peninsula customers. … The recycled water project is a
key part of the proposed replacement water supply
portfolio for the Peninsula to offset the state water board’s
Carmel River pumping cutback order.
San Diego is in the midst of spending roughly $3 billion on a
massive new water treatment system, but city officials can’t or
won’t tell customers how that will affect their water bills.
New water recycling plants will eventually purify enough sewage
to provide a third of the city’s drinking water. In
December, Voice of San Diego asked the city to estimate how
much customers’ bills will increase because of the Pure Water
project. The city, after weeks of delay, finally declined
last week to offer any estimate because “there is no simple
calculation” they could perform.
California American Water’s Monterey Peninsula desalination
project is in the midst of another critical phase even as
a Carmel River pumping cutback order milestone requiring the
start of construction looms later this year. … The city of
Marina is on schedule to consider the project’s coastal
development permit application covering mostly proposed desal
plant feeder slant wells on the CEMEX sand mining plant by
mid-March, according to a senior city planning official.
Technology already exists to treat reused water to levels
meeting or exceeding health standards. But adequate technical
capacity is not sufficient. Water reuse can trigger revulsion,
especially when water is reused for drinking or other potable
purposes. This note explores outreach and engagement strategies
to overcome the “yuck factor” and achieve public support for
Far less settled is how Newsom will fill his administration’s
most important positions regarding state water policy. One of
Newsom’s key tests confronts him immediate: State Water
Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus’ term expires this
The primary byproduct of desal is brine, which facilities pump
back out to sea. The stuff sinks to the seafloor and wreaks
havoc on ecosystems, cratering oxygen levels and spiking salt
content. … Researchers report today that global desal
brine production is 50 percent higher than previous estimates,
totaling 141.5 million cubic meters a day, compared to 95
million cubic meters of actual freshwater output from the
A lawsuit seeking a new environmental report for the
controversial Poseidon desalination plant proposed for
Huntington Beach was rejected by a Sacramento Superior Court
judge on Tuesday. Judge Richard Sueyoshi found the
supplemental report met legal requirements while noting the
2010 study had never been legally challenged.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has named Jared Blumenfeld, a
former Obama administration official and longtime environmental
advocate as the new secretary of the California Environmental
Protection Agency. Blumenfeld, 49, of San Francisco, will run
the agency, known as Cal-EPA, which oversees a broad range of
environmental and public health regulations statewide, on
topics that include air pollution, water pollution, toxics
regulation, pesticides and recycling.
Montgomery is known for fostering collaborative relationships
among stakeholders and as a leader in protecting and restoring
water quality within California and throughout the Southwest
and the Pacific Islands. He is currently serving as the
Assistant Director of the Water Division in the US
Environmental Protection Agency (Region 9).
This 2-day, 1-night tour offered participants the opportunity to
learn about water issues affecting California’s scenic Central
Coast and efforts to solve some of the challenges of a region
struggling to be sustainable with limited local supplies that
have potential applications statewide.
In the wake of filing lawsuits in state Supreme Court
challenging approval of the California American Water
desalination project approval, the Marina Coast Water District
and the city of Marina have both filed petitions with the state
Public Utilities Commission for rehearing of the desal project
In a widely anticipated move, the city of Marina and the
Marina Coast Water District filed lawsuits last week in
state Supreme Court challenging the California Public
Utilities Commission’s approval of California American Water’s
The controversial Poseidon desalination plant proposed for
Huntington Beach is the least cost-effective option and carries
the most fiscal risk of key water projects being pursued in
Orange County, according to a newly released draft report.
The San Diego County Water Authority Friday announced it will
cease work on a seawater desalination plant at Camp Pendleton
because of excessive permitting and cost hurdles by the State
After six and a half years of review, the state Public
Utilities Commission on Thursday approved a permit for
California American Water’s Monterey Peninsula Water Supply
Project, including a North Marina desalination plant.
In a sign of how seriously the state Public Utilities
Commission is taking the debate over the future of water supply
on the Monterey Peninsula, all five commissioners attended a
CPUC oral argument hearing on California American Water’s
proposed desalination project in San Francisco on Wednesday.
Several of those who attended the hearing said three of the
five commissioners asked a number of questions of the parties
to the desal project proceeding, and all five appeared “engaged
and interested” in the issue.
In a major development for California American Water’s
long-sought desalination project, the California Public
Utilities Commission has issued a proposed decision
recommending approval of the proposal known as the Monterey
Peninsula Water Supply Project.
After a protracted legal battle, a California Public Utilities
Commission ruling has been issued requiring California American
Water to release by this week unredacted [Monterey] county
Water Resources Agency invoices for work on the long-defunct
regional desalination project at the heart of a $1.9 million
settlement agreement between the two.
A California Public Utilities Commission proposed decision on
California American Water’s desalination project will be issued
by Monday next week (Aug. 13), and will appear on the
commission’s Sept. 13 meeting agenda, according to a commission
Concerns over the cost and environmental impacts of desalinated
water were overridden by the desire to fortify water supplies
when the Orange County Water District board voted 6-2 Wednesday
to approve non-binding contract terms with Poseidon, which has
spent 20 years on the desalination plant proposal for
The day of reckoning is drawing near for Huntington Beach’s
long-planned desalination plant, which would help quench Orange
County’s thirst with sea water and free up imported water for
the rest of the Southern California. Twenty years and $50
million into the process, officials with plant purveyor
Poseidon are optimistic they will get their final two permits —
possibly by year’s end.
Sin City has never been a place that thinks small. So it should
come as no surprise that Las Vegas – about 300 miles from the
Pacific Ocean – is pondering seawater desalination to meet its
long-term water demand. That doesn’t mean Vegas plans to build
a pipeline to the ocean. More likely, it would help pay for a
desalination facility in a place like Mexico, then trade that
investment for a piece of Mexico’s water rights in the Colorado
Not if, but when. That’s the future of water desalination
plants in Arizona, according to the head of the state’s water
department. They are controversial and expensive, but Arizona’s
current leadership views desalinated water – or “desal” – as
key to the state’s long-term water plans. Arizona sits atop an
estimated 600 million acre-feet of brackish water.
Several parties including the Monterey Peninsula mayors
regional water authority have called for delaying California
American Water’s proposed Marina desalination plant for a year
or more to allow pursuit of a proposed Pure Water Monterey
recycled water expansion and continued settlement talks in an
attempt to avoid litigation.
California water officials have approved $34.4 million in
grants to eight desalination projects across the state,
including one in the East Bay city of Antioch, as part of an
effort to boost the water supply in the wake of the state’s
historic, five-year drought.
With Tijuana and other rapidly growing coastal cities heavily
dependent on the Colorado River, Baja California urgently needs
to find new water sources. Baja California Gov. Francisco Vega
de Lamadrid’s administration has offered a solution: Build the
largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere, enough to
ensure a supply for decades to come.
A coalition of non-profits is asking a superior court to
reverse a state agency’s decision to greenlight a
long-proposed, controversial desalination plant in Huntington
Beach. … The Poseidon desalination plant has been proposed
for the site of the AES power plant on Pacific Coast Highway in
Huntington Beach for nearly 20 years, and has been continually
challenged and fought by environmental groups.
The small Stinson Beach County Water District is looking at
desalination as a way to guard water supplies as hoards descend
on the beach community in summer, and as drought and climate
change loom. The district serves about 730 residences and 2,000
people in and around Stinson Beach, drawing water from four
creeks as well as groundwater supplies.
The final round of battles between the people who want to build
the Poseidon desalination water plant, and the grass roots
environmental groups who oppose it, began Thursday in a crowded
city hall chamber in Huntington Beach. … The
three-member [State Lands] commission voted late Thursday to
approve the project as long as the operators agree to eliminate
or reduce carbon emissions.
A proposed Huntington Beach seawater desalination plant passed
a major regulatory hurdle Thursday when a marathon session at
City Hall concluded with an endorsement from the California
State Lands Commission.
A regulatory showdown that could set a precedent for large
scale desalination plants throughout the state is expected to
take place Thursday in Huntington Beach where a three-member
commission will decide whether the hotly contested Poseidon
ocean purification plant can move forward.
Poseidon Water announced this week that its proposed ocean
desalination plant in Huntington Beach would employ an
environmental protection and energy efficiency plan. But that
didn’t halt criticism of the controversial facility.
A desalination plant planned for Huntington Beach and more than
a decade in the making got a small step closer toward opening,
this week, after its application with the regional water
district was determined to be ready for consideration. The
agency also has enough information to make a decision about
whether the project complies with the state’s ocean plan.
With Baja California pushing forward on its plan for a massive
desalination plant in Rosarito Beach, a ground-breaking
proposal to pipe some of that water to the United States has
overcome a key hurdle. The U.S. State Department’s approval of
a presidential permit marks a step forward for the Otay Water
District and its vision for a cross-border pipeline to import
the desalinated water from Mexico.
State Public Utilities Commission officials are seeking input
on whether to conduct new hearings on California American
Water’s proposed Monterey Peninsula desalination project to
address a number of issues, potentially including an updated
project demand forecast and desal plant sizing evaluation that
could lead to a smaller initial plant that could be more easily
expanded as demand grows in the future.
As California officials struggle to decide on long-term fixes
for the receding lake, there’s new momentum around an old idea:
importing seawater from Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, and using the
area’s plentiful geothermal power to desalinate that water. A
subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which
already operates 10 geothermal plants in the area, is
developing a seawater desalination proposal and has pitched it
to lawmakers in Sacramento.
The long debate over Poseidon Water’s proposed ocean
desalination plant in Huntington Beach continued this week as
the California State Lands Commission released a draft of a
supplemental environmental impact report analyzing planned
additions to the facility that are meant to reduce potential
harm to marine life and increase the plant’s efficiency.
A new nationwide study has unearthed the huge hidden potential
of tapping into salty aquifers as a way to relieve
the growing pressure on freshwater supplies across the United
States. Digging into data from the country’s 60 major aquifers,
the U.S. Geological Survey reports that the amount of brackish
— or slightly salty — groundwater is more than 35 times the
amount of fresh groundwater used in the United States each
A California American Water official argued the company’s
desalination project can secure key permits and approvals
within six months of certification of the final project
environmental review document and start construction shortly
afterward, despite a series of delays involving the draft
report and the prospect of seeking a critical permit from the
city of Marina.
A Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary representative said
the latest delay involving California American Water’s proposed
Monterey Peninsula desalination project — a 30-day extension of
the public comment period on the project’s draft combined state
and federal environmental review document — could push back
finalization of the report by a month.
California’s historic drought may be winding down. But water
officials across the Golden State are increasingly exploring a
hidden but promising way to add to the state’s water supply:
removing salt from the billions of gallons of brackish — or
distastefully salty — water that lies deep below the Earth’s
A document purportedly leaked from the Trump administration
indicates that the proposed desalination plant in Huntington
Beach is among 50 infrastructure projects nationwide that the
president has designated as a priority.
The U.S. imports vehicles, equipment, fresh produce and other
goods from Mexico. That list may soon include water too, now
that a San Diego County water district is looking south for
help to diversify its supply.
On a a picturesque summer afternoon, West Basin Municipal Water
District officials chose to woo regulators with a stroll by the
beach in El Segundo, stopping to admire an unadulterated strip
of California coastline. … A few hours later,
environmental advocates held a town hall two miles away in
Poseidon Water hopes to help quench Orange County’s thirst, but
first the company’s proposed desalination
project must slake a thirst of its own. That’s why
Poseidon has long eyed a coastal power plant that has, for more
than a half-century, sucked up seawater to cool its massive
A protracted conflict over whether and how to protect fish from
dying at desalination plants is clouding prospects for what
would be California’s second large plant of this type – and for
the future of desalination along the entire
California coastline. For years, a proposed Poseidon
Resources desalination plant in Huntington Beach in Orange
County has been kept in limbo.
A new ruling issued by a state Public Utilities Commission
member has indicated the full commission likely wouldn’t
consider approval of California American Water’s Monterey
Peninsula desalination project until March 2018, four months
after company officials had hoped, and suggested that
consideration could be delayed even further.
Backers of a new Monterey Bay desalination project think they
have found a fix for the environmental problems posed by most
seawater intakes: Instead of drawing seawater from the beach,
they plan to draw from the one of the world’s deepest marine
In what local water activist Ron Weitzman promises is a
precursor to further litigation, the Water Ratepayers
Association of the Monterey Peninsula has filed suit against
the state Coastal Commission and Monterey County seeking to
halt California American Water’s slant test well program for
the proposed desalination plant project.
Carlsbad’s new desalination plant went through years of
regulatory review and faced 14 legal challenges from
environmental groups before it opened last year. Six months
after opening, it’s still facing regulatory hurdles, including
one that’ll make the water it produces more expensive.
A desalination plant proposed near San Juan Creek could produce
as much as 15 million gallons of drinking water daily and
create a reliable source for South County-area reserves in the
wake of an earthquake or drought, officials said. … On
Thursday, district officials will hold a community meeting to
discuss the project and its environmental report.
This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks with
energy reporter from The Desert Sun, Sammy Roth. He recently
researched a piece about efforts to make desalination more
commonplace in California.
Citing potentially higher costs that would be passed on to
customers, Orange County’s largest provider of water to homes
and businesses is intensifying its opposition to a key
supplier’s plan to buy desalinated water from a proposed $1
billion Huntington Beach plant.
In response to the recently launched Poseidon desalination
plant in Carlsbad, state officials have agreed to dramatically
ease water conservation goals in San Diego for almost all
residential water users. The adjustments will nearly cut in
half required water savings throughout the region, the San
Diego County Water Authority announced Thursday.
California American Water’s latest Monterey Peninsula water
supply project cost estimates show a larger desalination plant
would cost the same as previous estimates, but a smaller desal
plant would be more expensive. That would potentially squeeze
the cost of a supplemental recycled water project unless it
qualifies for grants and low-cost financing.
Poseidon Water’s desalination plant in Carlsbad is poised to
begin regular operations within days — decades after water
officials first considered harvesting drinking water from the
sea and 14 years after they formally took the first steps
toward its construction. The opening, to be celebrated with an
anticipatory ceremony Monday, will be a milestone for the
company, for arid San Diego County and for all of California.
The $1-billion desalination plant coming online next month in
Carlsbad will fit right in with years of careful planning and
investment in water supply in San Diego County. It will also
worsen a peculiar San Diego problem amid a multiyear drought:
an oversupply of water.
This 2-day, 1-night tour in the San Diego County included a
private tour of the new Carlsbad ocean desalination plant,
the largest such facility in the Western hemisphere and designed
to increase the San Diego area’s water supply reliability.
On a 15-year project, it seems silly to complain about a
month’s delay. Still, for more than a year now, people
have been told about a November opening of the $1 billion
Poseidon desalination plant in Carlsbad.
A groundwater replenishment project aimed at providing the
Monterey Peninsula with potable recycled water continued to
forge ahead of California American Water’s desalination project
during a state Public Utilities Commission hearing Monday.
California American Water is expected to resume pumping from
its stalled Monterey Peninsula desalination project test slant
well operation by early November after the Coastal Commission
gave its unanimous approval Tuesday.
Along a picture-postcard stretch of coast in Carlsbad near San
Diego, fishermen cast their lines into an emerald seawater
lagoon. In a few short weeks, the lagoon will also be feeding a
steady supply of water into what will be the largest operating
desalination facility in North America.
A more thorough, joint environmental review of the oft-delayed
Monterey Peninsula desalination project by the Monterey Bay
National Marine Sanctuary and the state Public Utilities
Commission will likely take about a year to draft and finalize,
according to representatives of both agencies.
The fate of a proposed water desalination plant in Huntington
Beach remains uncertain after a panel of experts has concluded
that it would be too expensive to build it using intake pipes
under the sea floor. That was the approach favored by the
California Coastal Commission, whose approval is needed to
Facing another delay on California American Water’s
desalination project, the Monterey Peninsula regional water
authority weighed in this week on the major reasons for the
delay — the apparent Geoscience conflicts of interest and the
stalled test well operation.
California American Water officials have acknowledged using
patented slant well technology by Geoscience president Dennis
Williams in the Monterey Peninsula desalination project after
previously denying it.
A water conservation group argued in court this week that the
San Diego County Water Authority needs to do more to account
for the potential environmental effects of its upcoming
projects, particularly the water desalination plant scheduled
to open in Carlsbad.
Santa Barbara City Council members on Tuesday unanimously
approved spending $55 million to reactivate a mothballed
desalination plant that could provide the city with
nearly a third of its drinking water.
Healdsburg’s Aaron Mandell wants to build a $30 million
desalination plant in the San Joaquin Valley that would use the
warmth of the sun to distill former irrigation water and reuse
it on thirsty farms. … “I think everybody is trying to
stretch the supplies every way they can,” said Jennifer Bowles,
executive director of the nonprofit Water Education Foundation
State Public Utilities Commission judge Gary Weatherford has
ordered California American Water and contractor Geoscience
Support Services president Dennis Williams to disclose details
of their agreements involving the Monterey Peninsula Water
In order to sort out an apparent conflict of interest and its
fallout, the state Public Utilities Commission on Thursday
extended the public review period for California American
Water’s latest desalination project’s draft environmental
impact report by nearly three months.
California American Water and a group of experts will be asked
to prove regional agricultural irrigation pumping caused most,
if not all, of the decrease in north Marina groundwater levels
that halted pumping of the Monterey Peninsula desalination
project’s test slant well last month.
A glistening spectacle on the west Fresno County prairie could
be a rock star in California’s next drought. It’s a mirrored
solar array longer than a football field, collecting heat to
boil salt and other impurities out of irrigation drainage. …
The technology is among Valley water stories that The Bee will
tell this month in a weekly series.
For the expected 1,500-plus people attending the International
Desalination Assn. World Congress, the highlight will be a
Sept. 4 tour of the $1-billion desalination plant under
construction in Carlsbad.
As environmental review for its Monterey Peninsula desalination
project approaches a critical stage, California American Water
is already moving ahead with hiring contractors for key aspects
of the project.
With drought impacts in full effect, some water agencies are
looking at desalination as way to improve water supplies. Now
the state Water Resources Control Board has passed an amendment
to its codes requiring new or expanded seawater desalination
plants to use the best available technology to protect all
forms of marine life.
For the second time in less than a month, Monterey Peninsula
business leaders are seeking a legal and technical analysis of
California American Water’s desalination project in an effort
to sniff out any issues that could potentially further delay or
derail the proposal.
Could the technology used in Israel that successfully turned
the country’s water shortage into a surplus be implemented in
California to ease the state’s drought? KQED Public Media
reporter Daniel Potter joins Alison Stewart via Skype from San
Francisco to discuss.
For nearly 25 years, the desal plant has sat unused. That’s
about to change. As nearby beachgoers swam, sailed and paddle
boarded on an overcast morning last week, Santa Barbara
officials showed off those tanks and pumps, describing their
plan to turn seawater into drinking water.
Desalination promises a world with no limits. … That promise
is driving the $1 billion desalination plant that Poseidon
Water is set to open in Carlsbad this November. And it has
brought Poseidon within one permit of building a plant in
As an unprecedented drought tightens its grip on California,
completion is near for the $1 billion Carlsbad Desalination
Project that is expected to supply 7 to 10 percent of San Diego
County’s drinking water by the end of this year.
Every time drought strikes California, the people of this state
cannot help noticing the substantial reservoir of untapped
water lapping at their shores — 187 quintillion gallons of it,
more or less, shimmering so invitingly in the sun.
A mothballed desalination plant sits like a time capsule near
Santa Barbara’s main tourist beach, a relic of California’s
last drought to end all droughts. … The dilemma is the
focus of the latest installment of this newspaper’s ongoing
series “A State of Drought.”
California American Water submitted a draft petition to the
state water board last month aimed at delaying the deadline for
reducing its river water pumping by four years from the end of
2016 to 2020. It promised to meet a series of milestones
including completion of a desalination plant capable of
providing a replacement water source for the Peninsula by the
Anyone who has stepped outside in the past year has undoubtedly
seen the effects of our state’s historic drought conditions.
… Southern California communities have rallied behind
desalinated ocean water as a reliable, safe and environmentally
friendly solution to long-term water shortages.
A state Public Utilities Commission judge will allow public
debate over the proposed regional desalination project
settlement agreement between California American Water and
Monterey County later this month, delaying the commission’s
scheduled review on Thursday.
After resisting disclosure, Monterey Peninsula Regional Water
Authority president Jason Burnett released a draft proposal
late Tuesday aimed at delaying a state-ordered cutback in
pumping from the Carmel River by four years.
Former Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook has filed a complaint
with the state’s political watchdog, alleging that a water
district board member has a conflict of interest and should not
be allowed to vote on a proposed desalination plant on the
A split Marina Coast Water District board decided to resume its
previous quest for a desalination plant, with a goal of
providing a new potable water supply within two years to new
development in Fort Ord, including Monterey Downs.
The Orange County Water District, which manages the groundwater
basin in north and central county, gave a much-needed boost
this week to a proposed desalination plant in Huntington Beach
by agreeing to purchase its water.
California’s drought declaration has triggered only local
limits such as restrictions on washing cars or watering lawns
for most communities, but one Pacific Coast tourist town has
seized it as an opportunity to build a long-desired
The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking proposals within two
funding opportunity announcements to improve water treatment
technologies aimed at increasing water management flexibility
through new usable water supplies in the United States. The
first is for research, laboratory studies and the second is for
pilot projects. Reclamation will make a total of up to $1.4
million available for the funding opportunities.
This week, water leaders from Australia are meeting our
Californian counterparts in West Sacramento to discuss the
lessons from our long drought. … We applied a number of
techniques including conservation, water trading, stormwater
collection and on-site gray water reuse, but one of our more
tangible successes has been a $10 billion seawater desalination
program with the construction of six major plants in all five
mainland state capitals.
Testimony concluded on Friday in the regional desalination
project trial in San Francisco Superior Court, with a
preliminary ruling not expected until February. … In a
separate suit, Cal Am is seeking to relocate a Sacramento
County Superior Court challenge filed by Marina Coast seeking
to halt the company’s slant test well project for its current
desal proposal, asking a judge to move the case to Monterey
Opening arguments in the case pitting three former regional
partners — the Monterey County Water Resources Agency,
California American Water and the Marina Coast Water District —
are set for Tuesday before Judge Curtis Karnow in San Francisco
At the State Building and Construction Trades Council, we agree
with the San Diego County Water Authority – the Carlsbad
desalination plant can’t come online fast enough. There is no
denying that California is in desperate need of a reliable,
drought-proof water supply.
Officials with the Cambria Community Services District plan to
flip the switch Nov. 15 on a $9 million desalination plant that
will provide the community with a desperately needed new supply
of drinking water.
The Coastal Commission will consider California American
Water’s proposed slant test well project at its meeting
Wednesday, and it’s hard to imagine that the commission will go
against its own staff recommendation, which is to allow Cal Am
California American Water has reached a deal with Cemex to
allow drilling of slant test wells, and possibly production
wells, for its proposed Monterey Peninsula desalination project
at the north Marina sand mining plant.
Coastal Commission staff has recommended upholding California
American Water’s appeal of its desalination slant test well
project with conditions, arguing Marina city officials failed
to provide any support for denying the project permit.
Along this patch of the Pacific Ocean, welders and pipefitters
nearly outnumber the surfers and sunbathers. … They are
building the Carlsbad Desalination Project, which will convert
as much as 56 million gallons of seawater each day into
drinking water for San Diego County residents.
Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink. That line is
all that remains in my brain from an early exposure to “The
Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” the endless poem that has been
cruelly inflicted upon generations of American schoolchildren.
Even ideas are being conserved as Santa Cruz continues its hunt
for alternative water supply solutions. … The so-called
ideas convention was hosted by the city’s 14-member Water
Supply Advisory Committee.
California’s drought has created mandated water conservation
efforts, but some communities in Southern California, from
Huntington Beach to Los Angeles, are doing something extra:
trying to become water independent.
San Diego’s water supplies could be seriously tested if a
punishing four-year drought extends through another winter. But
there is relief on the horizon. It’s not coming from rain
clouds; relief is coming from the West Coast’s first seawater
desalination plant in Carlsbad.
We talked the other day about the most exciting project now
going on in California, public or private. That would be
Poseiden Water’s Carlsbad desalination plant north of San
Diego, scheduled to begin operating next year.
This issue examines desalination and the role it could play in
the future of water supply. In addition to an explanation of the
basics of the technology, the article looks at costs,
environmental impacts and groundwater application. Pilot
desalination projects are featured, including a much-touted
Carlsbad, Calif., facility that promises to substantially boost
that region’s water supply.
This printed issue of Western Water looks at the energy
requirements associated with water use and the means by which
state and local agencies are working to increase their knowledge
and improve the management of both resources.
This printed issue of Western Water features a
roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources
consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development
with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor
to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial
page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of
research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of
This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership
with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an
excellent overview of climate change and how it is already
affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists
anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and
precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are
underway to plan and adapt to climate.
Salt. In a small amount, it’s a gift from nature. But any doctor
will tell you, if you take in too much salt, you’ll start to have
health problems. The same negative effect is happening to land in
the Central Valley. The problem scientists call “salinity” poses
a growing threat to our food supply, our drinking water quality
and our way of life. The problem of salt buildup and potential –
but costly – solutions are highlighted in this 2008 public
television documentary narrated by comedian Paul Rodriguez.
A 20-minute version of the 2008 public television documentary
Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley. This
DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking
engagements to help the public understand the complex issues
surrounding the problem of salt build up in the Central Valley
potential – but costly – solutions. Narrated by comedian Paul