Cal Am looking at Monterey desalination fallback plan

At least three other projects involving desalination plants are being looked at by California American Water (Cal Am) to supply water to the Monterey peninsula in case the Regional Desalination Project does not go ahead.

The original 37,850 m³/d seawater desalination project ran into trouble when its water- purchase agreement signed on 6 April 2010 became void following conflict-of-interest allegations involving former agency board member Steve Collins. So far, the relevant partners have failed to agree on a new arrangement.

The Monterey Herald on 4 October 2011 quotes Cal Am spokesperson Catherine Bowie as saying that the company’s study focuses on 10 alternatives, including the previously proposed North Marina desalination project owned by Cal Am alone, a desalination project at the Naval Postgraduate School backed by the water management district, and a proposal blending increased aquifer storage and recovery with a smaller desalination plant.

A deepwater desalination proposal at Moss Landing is also expected to be included in the Cal Am review.

Bowie told D&WR on 4 October 2011 that a technical memo had been prepared.

“Given all that’s at stake, we wanted to confirm that we’re on the best path. We reviewed possible physical solutions to the Monterey Peninsula’s water supply shortage on an equal basis, eliminating factors of ownership, financing and politics, and did what engineers are trained to do: develop an apples-to-apples comparison of the alternatives in order to determine the least expensive, optimal mix of components,” she confirmed.

A supplemental memo that examines permitting requirements and anticipated timelines for each project is also being prepared. In that memo, the company’s consultant (RBF Consulting) will make a recommendation as to which project represents the best water supply solution for the area based on the criteria defined.