At a closed-door meeting today, Jan. 27, California American Water Company outlined for the select attendees what may be its ultimate plan for solving the Peninsula’s water woes before the looming 2016 deadline imposed by the State to replace water being overdrafted from the Carmel River. Richard Svindland of Cal-Am first presented an overview of the area’s historical water demand and expected future demand, as well as discussing the volume produced by other likely sources of replacement water.
Sources say there was “amazing consensus” among representatives from most cities, the County Board of Supervisors, the Water Management District and the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, though no firm decisions were to be made. The meeting, they said, was strictly informational.
Cal-Am, a source who attended the meeting says, is likely to support a scalable desalination plant, designed to a maximum capacity of 8800 acre feet per year, in combination with groundwater recovery (GWR) and aquifer storage recovery (ASR) in place of the stalled Regional Desalination Project.
There could be portable, rented desalination units for the kickoff building on a plan for risk sharing, where any one, any two, or all three solutions could be brought online should the others fail to be completed in time to meet the deadline in 2016.
Ratepayers will bear the costs of the GWR and ASR projects, but it is not clear whether Cal-Am’s ratepayers or its investors will be on the hook for stranded costs resulting from the defunct project. Cal-Am, attendees were told, must replace its aging delivery system regardless.
It was reportedly alleged at the meeting that “gross capacity does not imply growth,” in response to potential no-growth advocates; there would be contingency for drought or extraordinary needs, and excess water could even be sold though there was apparently no discussion of delivery systems for such an effort.
Cal-Am said they will go it alone if they have to.
Three of six mayors were on hand – Sue McCloud of Carmel, Felix Bachofner of Seaside, and Chuck Della Sala of Monterey. City Managers included Fred Meurer of Monterey, Tom Frutchey of Pacific Grove, and the interim City Manager of Seaside. From the Water Management District were Jeanne Byrne, who represents Pacific Grove’s district; Dave Potter, also the only County Supervisor on hand; Bob Brower; and General Manager Dave Stoldt. Dave Laredo, attorney for both the City of Pacific Grove and the Water Management District, was in attendance. Jason Burnett, also a candidate for Carmel’s Mayor, and Libby Downey of Monterey were the only two City Council members from any of the six cities on hand. George Riley and Dale Hekhuis, consumer advocates, each addressed the group as did Keith Israel from Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency. Sources say there was a strong presence on the part of California American Water, which hosted the meeting.