Thursday, Sept. 4 Marina City Council voted to reject Cal Am’s request for a permit to drill slant wells on. Vote was 3 to 2: Yes, O’Connell, Morton, Brown: No, Delgado, Amadeo.
The issue was that CEQA has a requirement for an EIR, not a mitigated negative declaration, when there are sufficient differences of opinion about the impacts of the permitted project. There were sufficient differences presented that night, therefore the decision went to requiring an environmental impact report prior to further consideration.
Cal Am is expected to appeal directly to the California Coastal Commission in October for a permit to proceed. And maybe stay on schedule.
Opinion of Public Water Now
This is a schedule setback for Cal Am’s plan (and maybe water supply). But it may accommodate Public Water Now interests to advocate for more competition in the desal project options. I fear that slant wells are too experimental to be predictably reliable, too speculative on technology, without any operational use anywhere in the world, and therefore too costly. We want more competition with more predictable options. This also means cost competition, which benefits all ratepayers.
Public Water Now made no comments to the city council, pro or con, therefore we have a clean slate on going forward. We still need a water supply, but maybe we have a chance to argue for a quicker project, perhaps with one of the local projects. Or even Cal Am might pursue a different intake system for speed, cost and performance reasons. Anyway PWN can still advocate for public ownership of whatever Cal Am can get approved.
I believe avenues forward for Public Water Now are these: Advocate for competition with the two local entrepreneurial projects, advocate for open ocean intakes (get away from the high cost of the slant well experiment), advocate for public ownership of Cal Am desal. I hope to keep all three alive.
Public Water Now