Monterey cost/benefit study to look at ‘social ROI’

The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) is soliciting statements of qualifications by 1 May 2014 from qualified organizations to perform triple bottom line cost-benefit analysis related to the proposed Pure Water Monterey Groundwater Replenishment (GWR) Project.

The overall objective is to compare the cost-benefit of the GWR project against increasing the size of the California American Water desalination project from 6.4 to 9.6 MGD (24,000 to 36,000 m³/d). The primary objective of the GWR Project is to replenish the Seaside Basin aquifer by producing 3,500 acre-feet per year (4.3 million m³/y) of high quality reused and collected water from various sources.

The triple bottom line requirement means that the water supply solution needs to be evaluated in terms of benefits that extend beyond simply cost to the ratepayer, to include other factors that affect environmental and social policy goals, regionally and statewide.

“The concept of ‘social ROI’ (return on investment) has been introduced in the past decade and is becoming a more important decision-making criterion,” says the MPWMD in its RfQ.

Significant positive benefits that could influence the decision of the California Public Utilities Commission towards the smaller desalination plant + the GWR, at a higher cost, could include, says the MPWMD:

(i) A material schedule advantage in that the GWR Project is anticipated to be operable sooner than the desalination plant

(ii) Water supply resilience and reliability (benefit of the portfolio approach)

(iii) Other positive externalities of the GWR Project, including, but not limited to, reduced atmospheric carbon emissions, reduced brine discharge, and the implementation and encouragement of State policies regarding water recycling through early adoption of a water reuse project.