ACWA supports California desalination regulation rethink

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) has proposed to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) that the board’s new environmental document for desalination and brine disposal should propose a method to combine the current regulatory requirements, permits and approvals.

This, says ACWA, would ” improve administrative efficiency and reduce project approval timelines, while adequately protecting local decision-making discretion and environmental resources”.

David Bolland, senior regulatory advocate for ACWA, which represents nearly 440 water systems in California, wrote to SWRCB on 9 April 2012, as part of the comment process to be used for scoping preparation of the document Amendments to the Water Quality Control Plans for Ocean Waters and Enclosed Bays and Estuaries to Address Desalination Facilities and Brine Disposal.

“Our public agency members are at the forefront of developing innovative water supply projects using the full range of sources and technologies in local communities statewide,” said the letter. “We are strongly committed to protecting and promoting the development of desalination facilities to augment water supplies and treat salinity-impaired surface and groundwater, including desalination of ocean waters.”

Pointing out that salinity was “one of the most significant” water challenges the state faced, ACWA pleaded for policies to be based on sound science and careful risk assessment. They “should NOT place unnecessary new regulatory barriers in the way of comprehensive and sustainable water resource management,” the letter continued.