Helping Our Peninsula's Environment
(c) Copyright 2010 HOPE

"Right-Sized" Water Solution for Monterey Peninsula beats the "Regional" Water Supply (which is yet Another Giant Growth-Forcing, Violently Expensive, Anti-Democracy Water Project)



For . . . >>>

? ! ?

What is the Best Kept Secret on Our Monterey Peninsula?

(Hint -- A cheaper, better, faster to build -- fully-legal water-solution is only 3 years away from operation.)

Overview & Opinion




Vital Facts

References & Documents 

Legal Issues


How You can Help

The Good, the Bad, and the Desperate (Who's Protecting Us & Who Isn't)


(July 2010) Developers and Cal-Am are pushing hard for approval of a giant "Regional" Desalination plant in Marina -- that oddly, even if built, might never deliver a drop of water to our Monterey Peninsula.

The proposed 12,000 acre foot plant at Marina would be North America's largest desal plant. It is designed to be larger than to simply legalize our water problem, it would provide considerable excess water for growth, would be out of the Peninsula voter's control and would do virtually nothing to protect the endangered steelhead.

This project has been created and support gathered without any cost numbers available. Now estimates in May 2010 indicate the project might make the most expensive water in the world (as much as $9,000 per acre foot).

The Environmental Impact report states the "Regional" project will not help the endangered Carmel River steelhead by more than a few extra days of drought protection per year.

Timeline: The "Regional" project would take at least six (6) years to begin operations.

Cost vs Ownership: It would cost about half a Billion dollars, be paid for by Peninsula ratepayers, but owned by a government agency (Marina Coast Water District) that pays nothing to own it.

Marina Coast Water District did build a tiny (200 acre foot) Desal plant in 1999. It barely limped along and was never fully operational. It had equipment problems and is now in mothballs.

Peninsula ratepayers will have to pay for the half a Billion dollar Desal plant - even though the water (pumped from the Salinas Basin) might never get legally delivered here.

HOPE Opinion -

The Marina "Regional" project would be the biggest Desal plant in North America, would have the "most expensive desalinated water in the world," is intended to rip away our Right to Vote on Peninsula water projects and our right to vote for Water Candidates - and does almost nothing to help the steelhead fish in the Carmel River recover.

Can you imagine a worse idea than that? -- (or if you are a Developer -- a Better idea than that !)

On the other hand - the "Right-Sized" Desalination Solution at Sand City - created by the Water Management District can save us millions of dollars and get built in half the time - plus we keep control and ownership of it.

Peninsula Political Water Refresher

In 2003 every Peninsula Mayor rejected the "Right-Sized" Desal solution at Sand City which would have solved our water problem at the least cost and not had any extra water for full-throttle growth. If they had supported it - we would have been drinking water out of it in 2007.

Now in 2010 all the Mayors support the "Regional" Desal project because it has loads of water for full-throttle growth, and would sever our right to vote on water issues.

In 1995 HOPE leaders helped win the battle to get voters to stop the Giant pro-growth Dam in Carmel Valley. All developers, the Chambers of Commerce, and almost every local elected leader supported the Dam - as did every newspaper.

But We Won anyway.

Voters rejected the Dam by a big margin (57%-43%). Just like in 1993 when Peninsula voters rejected a giant pro-growth Desal plant.

Furiously, ever since that 1995 loss Cal-AM and the developers have been trying to prevent us from voting on their projects. They don't want us voting because they want a huge project. They fight against solutions that will simply legalize our water. (We get to vote because state law requires all water projects inside our Water District to be approved by voters.)

Cal-Am even went to Sacramento twice to get a bill passed to close down our Water District (which would rip away our right to vote). The second time we stopped them by only a single vote.

Now they are desperately trying to do a project outside our District - so they picked Marina (Coast Water District) - which is just outside our Water District boundaries.

You'll have a hard time finding a better Three-Stooges imitation than the good old boys at Marina Coast. (You can watch their meetings on the web.) They spent a ton of money building a tiny Desal in 1999 but couldn't ever get it running right - so they abandoned it ! Its gathering weeds today.

Now Cal-Am wants the spectacularly incompetent Marina Stooges to run a Desal plant 60 times larger. (I'm really not making this up.)

If we support the Right-Sized Solution we could be drinking water out of it in three years.

-David Dilworth, HOPE Executive Director


Nov 15 Water District staff (reluctantly) reveals that there is more than enough water in the Sand City / Seaside waterfront to solve our water supply legality problems. This makes the "Regional" Water Project irrelevant and unnecessary.

(June 29) HOPE Prepares a chart comparing the two projects.

(June 28 & 29) PUC holds "fake meetings" and gets blasted for cost and governance issues. Right-Sized Solution gets lots of applause, but no mention in media.

(June 25, 2010) A high quality video explaining the Right-Sized Desal Solution is available on the web at Vimeo # 12865649 The video features an interview with former Water Board Chair and co-creator of the Right-Sized Solution - Alexander Henson.

May 2010 First look at costs of Regional Project. Even the lowest estimates make it among the most expensive desal water in the world. Click here for the cost chart.

(July 2009) Monterey Herald (Royal Calkins) refuses to allow a HOPE commentary on the "Right-Sized" Desalination Solution. This continues a total Herald News Blackout on this project since it was created in 2002.

April 2008 The Peninsula Water Board votes to make the "Right-Sized" Desal their top priority of seven projects.

January 2008 The Peninsula Water Board votes to revive their "Right-Sized" Desal Solution at Sand City.

2006 Coast Weekly allows a HOPE commentary on the "Right-Sized" Desalination Solution.

2004 Newly elected Water Board members (Michele Knight and Larry Foy joined by Dave Potter and Sand City Mayor Dave Pendergrass) vote to stop work on the District's "Right-Sized" Desal at Sand City. This is the first time in Water District history they have no major water project. Knight and Foy ran for office to "get rid of the Water District."

(Dec. 2003) An Administrative Draft Environmental Impact Report is released for the "Right-Sized" Desalination Solution at Sand City. Staff says it is only a few months away from a complete EIR.

2002 The Peninsula Water Board votes to create a "Right-Sized" Desalination Solution at Sand City. (Lead by Henson, Markey, Erickson, and Lehman)

(Nov 2002) Advisory vote arranged by the Developers, Cal-Am, the Mayors to dissolve the Water Management District. Lopsided vote because the District is prohibited by law from campaigning, and public interest groups decide not to waste money, time and energy for an Advisory vote. Most political pundits agree that almost all government agencies put up for a vote would lose.

Vital Facts --

  1. A Better Water Solution exists - the "Right-Sized" Desalination Solution at Sand City - Created by the Water Management District.
  2. (There are TWO Sand City Desal plants -- The tiny one (200 acre feet) is built by Sand City itself - in part to try to block the 8,000 acre foot "Right-Sized" Solution -- which is created by our Water Management District.)

  3. Democracy, Democracy, Democracy ! We lose all political control of our water if the "Regional" Plant is built outside our Water District. We keep control with the Right-sized" Solution inside our Water District.
  4. The Water District Desal could be built in 3 years as opposed to 6 years for the "Regional" project (and tens of millions cheaper too).
  5. Secret -- There is a strong chance our Peninsula would never get a drop of water from the "Regional" project - yet still have to pay a half Billion dollars for the project !!!
  6. Monterey Peninsula does not need 12,000 acre feet of water. Anything over about 7,800 af is for new growth (subdivisions, golf courses, hotels) - including the Bait and Switch "Drought Reserve."
  7. Marina Coast Water District is spectacularly incompetent. They tried to get a tiny Desal plant running - and failed. The "Regional project is some 60 times bigger than their failure.
  8. The "Regional" Project at Marina would be North America's largest Desal plant. The largest currently "running" (or limping) Desal plant in the United States at Tampa Bay was 5-6 years late, cost 40 percent over budget.
  9. Desal Costs = Energy Costs - which are only going to escalate in coming years. The bigger the plant - the higher the costs.
  10. The "Right-Sized" Solution has a completed Administrative Draft EIR
  11. You haven't heard about this Solution because there has been a Total News Blackout (Censorship) on the "Right-Sized" Solution by the Herald.
  12. There's inconvenience, but no catastrophe for humans, but there is for Carmel River animals.
  13. Even though the PUC's "Regional" FEIR evaluated a 12,000 acre foot project, all the financing and purchase agreements are for the 10,500 af size. Because no drinking water can be moved from the Salinas Valley water basin, and 15 % of the Marina water is estimated" to be "fresh water" - some 1,700 af must stay in the Salinas Valley (read Marina) and 8,800 would go to the Peninsula.

Nothing prevents the "Regional" project from being built to 12,000 af. after it is approved. (Bait and Switch)


Fact Details

There is a strong chance we would never get any water from the "Regional" project - yet have to pay a half Billion dollars for the project !!!

WHAT ???

It gets worse.

Imagine someone signs a contract to buy a house and makes you legally responsible to paying for it (over your protests) - and you don't even get to own the house. That's what we're facing.

We here on the Peninsula have absolutely no vote or any political influence on the PUC decision or the Purchase Agreement.

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is poised to force us to pay for the water and the plant - even though we may never get any water from it! Why -- click here


"Drought Reserve" is a bait and Switch tactic by developers. We had a Monterey Peninsula "Drought Reserve" up until the 1990s, but Developers got ALL the "Drought Reserve" water given to them for more subdivisions and growth. You can be assured that any extra capacity put into a water supply will be used for development.


Animal catastrophe - yes, human catastrophe - no.

During worst case Rationing we might have to cut back to 50 gallons a day per person. We've done that before.

River animals aren't so lucky. They can't cut back on their water use - because they don't waste it. When the Carmel River dries up - the already endangered Steelhead and California red-legged frog - simply die.


Desal Disasters

Poseidon Desal Boondoggle in California

Tampa Bay (Florida) has - "by far the largest desalination plant in North America" is a giant boondoggle (more and bigger problems than solutions) -- The Marina project would be even bigger.

Tampa Bay, the largest "running" Desal plant in the North America, was 5-6 years late, cost 40 percent over budget - with more expensive problems yet to come.

Tampa Bay government promised the cheapest desal water in the world putting out a Press Release saying "first-year costs as low as $1.71 per thousand gallons."

* * *

What You Can Do

Call your elected officials and respectfully ask them to "Publicly Support the 'Right-Sized' Desal Solution at Sand City - created by the Water Management District."

Especially call --

  • Assemblyman Monning
  • Your Water District Representatives
  • All Local Elected Officials


Documents & References

Chart Comparing the two Water Alternatives - "Right-Sized Solution" vs Regional.

Cost Details

Full Cost Details with References

Weekly Article on Cal-Am's "Misdeeds" (Oct 1999)

HOPE Commentary "Greed is Enemy of Enough" 

EIR (Environmental Impact Report) grossly legally inadequate, but certified by the California Public Utilities Commission in 2009

2006 HOPE Commentary on the "Right-Sized" Desalination Solution in Weekly.

Good overview of Peninsula Political Water History

Good overview of Peninsula Water's Physical, Legal and Political Landscape

Wikipedia on Desalination

Desalination Nation

Monterey Herald's eight year long Total News Blackout and Censorship on "Right-Sized" solution by City Editor Joe Livernois and Royal Calkins.



Harm Overview

Sea life harm - The extra salty water from Desal plants sinks and could form salty ponds and lakes at the bottom of our bay and nearby ocean. Some ocean species are extremely sensitive to the salinity of the water they "breathe" and will die.


Legal Issues

"Why do we always have time to do it over, but never have time to do it right?" - John Tolson

The PUC's Environmental Report is massively fatally legally defective. It arrogantly refuses to analyze the feasible "Right-Sized Solution" - and finds all other alternatives to its "Regional" project are not suitable.

There is no doubt in anyone's mind that the PUC will approve the "Regional Project" - probably in October, 2010.

Anyone could file a CEQA suit as soon as the Public Utilities Commission rubber stamps this outrageously expensive, anti-democracy "Regional" project. Litigation will take at least two years and cost the PUC hundreds of thousands of dollars when they lose.

To avoid a lawsuit all the PUC has to do is what many of us have been asking for years - Provide a proper analysis of the Water Management District's Sand City Desal Solution. That's reasonable.


Why No Water?: California state law prevents moving drinking water (not brackish water) from the Salinas Valley Basin to another watershed because it is in a severly overdrafted state similar to our Peninsula.

All the water for the "Regional" project is to be pumped from the Salinas Valley aquifer at Marina - that is a distinctly different watershed from the Monterey Peninsula.

So if a single Salinas Valley well owner (or the State Water Resources Board or a non-profit) sued - could they halt all water transport to the Monterey Peninsula?

Well, lawyers for powerful Salinas Valley well owners have already protested this project...


The Good --

The Bad --

The Desperate --

  • People and groups and even elected officials who are unaware of "Right-Sized" solution to our water problem.


For more information please call 831-624-6500.

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This page updated Dec 29, 2010

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