More moves on Monterey desalination proposals

The final report on the choice of seawater desalination plants proposed for the Monterey Peninsula in California was presented to the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority on 18 December 2012 by its consultant, Separation Processes Inc.

However, events have moved on since SPI finished accumulating data in the middle of October 2012, with one of the three proposed reverse-osmosis projects actually changing hands.

According to SPI, the proposal by California American Water (Cal Am) is the most advanced timewise. Cal Am disputes the report's suggestion that it would also be the most expensive and local interpretation that they are increasing the size of the proposed plant.

Cal Am's Catherine Bowie told D&WR:

"We are about 8 months into a 22-month review process being conducted by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Last week we presented new demand factors that were not included in our original application."

"Essentially, we are supplying updated information to CPUC that they will consider in determining the size of the plant," Bowie explained. "I think it is more accurate to say that we have revised the demand figures and that the CPUC will include this information in their review process."

The SPI report says that CPUC is "aggressively pushing forward implementation" of the Cal Am project. A "Scoping Report" will be prepared describing the project and the project alternatives that will be considered in a draft environmental impact report scheduled for circulation by 1 July 2013.

While Cal Am is still aiming for a 2016 start-up to beat the deadline for reduction of abstractions from the Carmel river, neither of the alternatives will commence operations before 2018, the consultant's report says.

The Deepwater Desal proposal, based at Moss Landing and the only one looking to expand the initial plant at a later date to supply other regions, won the backing of the Salinas City Council on 18 December 2012 "to explore the purchase of water and wholesale power". It would use existing infrastructure at Moss Landing power station.

The third project, originally known as the People's Moss Landing Water Desal Project, now has a different owner. Donald Lew, managing partner of investment company JDL Development LLC, told a meeting of Pacific Grove City Council that JDL had taken over the project and renamed it the Regional Desalinization Project at Moss Landing Commercial Park.

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