California gives Monterey environmental thumbs up

The California Public Utilities Commission’s recently published draft environmental impact report on the Monterey Peninsula Water Project and has rated the desalination project as the environmentally preferred of a number of options scrutinised as possible solutions to the region’s drought problems.

“We are pleased to see the CPUC’s draft environmental review supports our approach to solving the Peninsula’s water crisis,” California American Water President Rob MacLean said.

The 1,700 page report took three years to complete. It includes studies of the environmental impacts of two proposed plans, one involving a 50 Ml/d desalination plant and another producing 32 Ml/d.

The Monterey peninsula is looking to replace the water that California has ruled as being taken illegally by Cal Am from the Carmel River. Cal Am and must cease drawing water form the river by 2017.

The draft report included an evaluation of a proposed 150 m long slant well that would extract salt water from the Monterey Bay.

It probed also the pretreatment, reverse osmosis, post treatment, and brine discharge all proposed for the area.

The report’s chief criticism was of the greenhouse gas emissions from the plant, as well the noise, and traffic it would generate.

The discharging of brine into the Monterey Bay was a cause for concern. But the predicts that the way the brine would be discharged would not have significant impact on the water quality of the Monterey Bay.

The publication of the report marks the beginning of a 60-day public consultation. A final report will be published in October

If everything goes smoothly for the desalination plant construction could begin as early as February of 2016.