Seeds scupper test well on day one

The discovery of seeds of an endangered flower at the site of a test slant well construction in north Marina, California, has halted the project on day one. California American Water (Cal Am) only recently won the right to proceed with the slant well test was after a lengthy court battle with owner of the site, cement firm, Cemex.

The Cal Am desalination test well was stopped as crews prepared to drill a slant well in north Marina, Cal Am officials said an onsite biologist found the seed of a federally-protected Monterey spineflower “exactly where we were going to put the well,” according to Cal Am’s engineering manager Ian Crooks.

The crew put a concrete barrier and netting around the seed and reconfigured their operations to drill in a new spot, Crooks told the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority’s Technical Advisory Committee.

“We do environmental surveys before the work begins, but once you get out there, it’s not uncommon for additional alterations to be needed,” said a Cal Am spokesperson.

The test well runs 220m from the Cemex property to the beach. Should pumping data show it is working as intended, it could be one of ten intake wells — eight active, two standby — in the seawater desalination plant at the centere of Cal Am’s Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project. The aim, Crooks sad, was to finish the test well this month and begin pumping on 1 March, with data available within a few weeks.

Results showing a significant portion of freshwater, indicating the well is drawing from the Salinas Valley Basin, could end the whole project on the Cemex site according to Crooks.