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Posted on: April 17, 2018


Cal Am, a private for-profit water corporation, has proposed a desalination plant that would be located in the City of Marina – the plant would use slant wells to draw brackish (salt) water, and also tap into significant fresh groundwater sources that Marina residents rely upon for 100% of their drinking water.

 The proposed Monterey Peninsula Water Supply desalination project is currently being reviewed under the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The California Public Utilities Commission has released the project’s Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR); that document will provide an overview of the environmental impacts associated with the project, as well as with potential alternatives. Members of the public are encouraged to submit public comments by April 30, 2018 –  comments received will be reviewed and considered for their impact on the issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) or a Record of Decision (ROD) authorizing or prohibiting the project.

The City of Marina has been engaged for years in the regulatory review process for the project, and has raised a series of questions regarding project impacts. To date, Cal Am has not outlined a clear plan to address these questions or concerns:

  • Risk of depletion of Marina’s groundwater sources: Research by experts at Stanford University shows that the desalination project would tap into freshwater sources. Those groundwater supplies must be responsibly managed under new requirements of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). How would the desalination project avoid harming this protected groundwater resource?
  • Legality of withdrawals: Despite having no groundwater rights, Cal Am’s project will extract water from an already critically overdrafted basin – in direct conflict with SGMA, which requires regional coordination and responsible planning to restore precious groundwater resources. How would Cal Am’s project be in compliance with groundwater management law?
  • Questionable project size: The proposed project is far larger in size than realistic local water demand projections indicate is needed. Can Cal Am pursue other water supply projects of smaller size that would have lesser environmental impacts?
  • Impacts to Marina residents: The project would be located in the City of Marina and tap into Marina’s drinking water supply, yet the desalination plant will not serve water customers within the city of Marina boundaries. How will local water supplies and local water rates for Marina residents be protected?
  • Increase in seawater intrusion: As the water is pumped from the targeted aquifers it will lead to increased seawater intrusion in the area, which could significantly harm Marina’s fresh drinking water supply. How would this contamination be avoided?
The final EIR/EIS is available online at the National Marine Sanctuary’s website at

Public comments should be submitted to both the individuals below:

Paul E. Michel
Superintendent, NEPA Lead
Monterey Bay National Sanctuary
Pacific Street, Bldg. 455a
Monterey, CA  93940

John Forsythe
Senior Environmental Planner, CEQA Lead
California Public Utilities Commission
c/o Environmental Science Associates
550 Kearny Street, Suite 800
San Francisco, CA  94108

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City of Marina | 211 Hillcrest Avenue | Marina, CA 93933 | Phone: (831) 884-1278 | E-mail:
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