Local water agencies from across the region formed the Water Authority in 1944 to import water into the county from rivers hundreds of miles away. But, just in time for the Water Authority’s 75th anniversary, its future as the region’s main water supplier is in question.
The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, named for a former mayor, is owned by Orion Water Partners LLC, the joint venture between Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners affiliate Poseidon.
As 2018 was winding down, one of California’s leading newspapers suggested, via a front-page, banner-headlined article, that the drought that had plagued the state for much of this decade may be returning.
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.
By a 6-4 vote, the commission backed a use permit for the proposed 6.4 million gallon per day desal plant. The plant is designed to provide about 40 percent of the Peninsula’s planned new water supply to offset the state’s Carmel River pumping cutback order set to take full effect at the end of 2021, as well as reduce pumping from the Seaside basin. The commission’s approval can be appealed to the Board of Supervisors.
With eight months left until the end of the year, the City of Santa Barbara is 8 percent shy of its goal to have half the power used by its municipal buildings come from renewable energy sources by 2020.
Since the Santa Barbara City Council committed to the goal in 2017, the city started installing three small scale solar arrays, two at fire stations and the last at the Eastside Branch Library, which began going up only this past week, said Alelia Parenteau, Energy Program supervisor at city Public Works.
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 desal plant on Charlie Benson Road off Del Monte Boulevard north of Marina.
The commission is charged with considering a use permit and administrative permit and design approval, for the desal plant and related facilities based on consideration of a combined environmental impact report and environmental impact statement certified by the California Public Utilities Commission in September.
Developed by a research team at MIT, the proprietary system incorporates what are described as “well-known and standard chemical processes.” These include a nano-filtration process to initially remove unwanted compounds from the brine, followed by one or more stages of electrodialysis.
Before the Carlsbad Desalination Plant in Southern California began operations in 2015, scientists at UC Santa Cruz recognized an important opportunity to study the effects of the high-salinity brine that would be discharged from the plant into coastal waters.
Starting in 2014, they collected measurements of water chemistry and biological indicators in the area so they could compare conditions before and after the plant began discharging brine into the ocean.