Monterey slant test ousttrips expections

State utility, California American Water (CalAm) has reported that its test slant well for a proposed Monterey Peninsula desalination project is outstripping expected performance to a degree that suggests a smaller and cheaper production facility will be needed.

According to CalAm analysis of production and monitoring data the well is pumping water faster than its 90,000 litres a minute engineering design estimates.

Production results are, CalAM reported, “as good or better than anticipated.” and the finding “bodes well for the overall economics [of the desalination project].” The report indicates that were the current output sustained over time it would reduce the number of production wells needed in the final project and its cost.

CalAm plans to produce an analysis of production and monitoring operations ahead of its formal petition to the state water board seeking an extension to a 2017 deadline for attaining a cutback level on pumping from the Carmel River that will apply for four years. CalAm has argued that delays to the desalination project that have pushed its completion schedule beyond the deadline have been out of its control. The proposed desalination plant would reduce demand on water from the river.

The test well operation includes a single slant well drawing brackish water from beneath the Monterey Bay ocean floor and a series of groups of monitoring wells. It is designed to assess the quality and quantity of the brackish water as well as the impact on the Salinas Valley basin and wells surrounding the pumping site.

Under an agreement between 16 parties with interest in the desal project, a group of hydrogeologists has been set up to analyse the test data. The interested parties included the Salinas Valley Water Coalition and Monterey County Farm Bureau, who have expressed deep concern about the potential impact on the Salinas Valley basin as a result of Cal Am’s long-range pumping plans.