Cal Am asks community for input on Monterey Peninsula water project

Monterey Peninsula residents will have the opportunity to share their perspectives and give feedback on local water issues next week.

California American Water will host a community forum from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9 at CSU Monterey Bay. Cal Am staff, engineers, consultants and customer service representatives will be in attendance to discuss water resources.

One of the main topics up for discussion at next week’s forum will be the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project — a proposed solution to the water crisis on the Peninsula. The project aims to reduce existing water use on the Peninsula by replacing reliance on the Carmel River.

In 2009, Cal Am was hit with a state cease-and-desist order to stop over-pumping on the Carmel River basin, which posed a threat to federally protected steelhead trout. The State Water Resources Control Board’s order to limit pumping on the Carmel River became fully effective Dec. 31, 2021, requiring most water to come from the Seaside Basin, a natural underground reservoir.

California American Water submitted an application to the California Public Utilities Commission for the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project in April 2012. The $322 million project is comprised of three elements: the creation of a desalination plant, an aquifer to store excess winter flows and utilizing wastewater recycling to replenish groundwater.

According to the project’s second-quarter 2022 update, the 7,000-foot pipeline that will enable water to be injected into and extracted from the Seaside Basin has been installed. The newsletter states that the pipeline is expected to be operational by the beginning of September.

California American Water previously purchased 46 acres of land north of Marina for the proposed desalination plant. The organization’s project application was deemed incomplete last year by the California Coastal Commission. Evan Jacobs, director of external affairs for Cal Am, told The Herald in May that Cal Am expects to come before the Coastal Commission later this year with an updated application for the project.

The wastewater recycling element — known as Pure Water Monterey — is a partnership between Monterey One Water and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District that recycles wastewater through an advanced treatment process and injects it into the Seaside Groundwater Basin for later extraction. Monterey Peninsula water officials reported earlier this month that the project delivered 3,500 acre-feet of water and an additional 173 acre-feet into reserves, effectively meeting consumer demand.

Cal Am is a subsidiary of American Water and provides water and wastewater services to more than 725,000 people in the state. American Water is the largest U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company.

Interested community members are invited to attend the community forum at CSUMB’s Otter Student Union Ballroom from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday. More information about the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project can be found at watersupplyproject.org.

Contributed by local news sources

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