Monterey Peninsula’s Desalination Project Environmental Reports Released

Being hailed as a “major milestone” the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) have released their joint environmental report for California American Water’s proposed seawater desalination project. The project is one of three major components of the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project aimed at helping to solve the Monterey Peninsula’s water crisis.

The three-part project is designed to meet the Monterey Peninsula’s water demands in a manner that is both sustainable and permanent. It includes the following:

DESALINATION – Seawater will be collected from the ocean through slant wells drilled near the tide line. The seawater will be filtered down through the ocean floor, then re-collected through slant wells and piped to a desalination treatment plant to be constructed near the Monterey One Water Regional Treatment Plant. The seawater will be put through various treatment processes at the plant, including reverse osmosis, to remove all impurities. The salt concentrate that is removed will be blended with other treated effluent and returned to the ocean through the existing outfall from the Monterey One Water’s regional treatment plant.

AQUIFER, STORAGE, RECOVERY (ASR) – ASR — already underway as a partnership program between California American Water and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District — takes winter flows from the Carmel River and injects them into the natural underground Seaside Aquifer for use during the dry summer months. Diverting water to the aquifer is only allowable under high river flow conditions in order to protect wildlife. In average rain years, ASR will be able to supply 8.5 percent of the community’s water needs. The Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project will expand this program to meet its full supply potential. It will also allow excess desalinated water generated in wetter months to be stored in the Seaside Basin for use in drier years.

PURE WATER MONTEREY – As part of the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project, California American Water will purchase water from Pure Water Monterey, a highly-treated recycled water project being advanced by the Monterey One Water and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District. Also included in the project are 30 miles of pipeline to deliver water from Marina to the Monterey Peninsula, including its storage tanks and pump stations.

The 1,000-plus page CPUC/ MBNMS joint report is based on years of research. It has been released in order to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), each which mandated analysis of the environmental impacts of the Water Supply Project’s desalination component. The issuance of this document marks a significant milestone in the project as the public will finally have access to a comprehensive, scientific and independent analysis of the project’s key elements.

“The public finally has a definitive report by both state and federal agencies that provides comprehensive analysis on critical issues based on scientific evidence and expert review,” California American Water President Rich Svindland said. “This is a major step forward in securing our water future. I’d like to thank the California Public Utilities Commission as well as the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary for their work in providing these extensive reports.”

NEPA and CEQA are statutes that require federal, state and local agencies to identify significant environmental impacts of certain projects and ways to mitigate or avoid those impacts prior to permitting. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary was the lead federal agency under NEPA, and the California Public Utilities Commission was the lead state agency under CEQA.

Both reports are available on the project’s website at

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