California Coastal Commission Staff Recommend Support of Proposed Desalination Facility on the Monterey Peninsula

The Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project will bring a much-needed reliable water source to the region for generations to come

PACIFIC GROVE (Nov. 4, 2022) The California Coastal Commission staff released its report yesterday recommending that the Coastal Commission approve the California American Water Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project at a hearing on November 17, 2022.

The recommendation for approval comes with special conditions and modifications to the project that California American Water is looking forward to implementing collaboratively with the California Coastal Commission. The project, as recommended, will provide the region with the reliable, drought-proof water supply it urgently needs.

“The Coastal Commission staff completed a comprehensive review and thorough report on the project,” said Ian Crooks, vice president of engineering for California American Water. “The staff report recognizes that historic drought conditions are making additional water supplies critical in the coming years and that there are no alternatives to ensure a reliable supply of water except for the desalination project.  The report also includes several conditions to ensure that the project’s potential impacts to coastal resources and low-income ratepayers are mitigated to the maximum extent feasible. We have worked for the last 10 years with community advocates and stakeholders, cutting edge researchers, coastal experts and industry leading engineers to develop a solution that meets the community’s needs. Moreover, this project will ensure the most vulnerable among us have access to safe, affordable water.”

If approved by the Commission, this project would end a decades-long water supply crisis that has affected the Peninsula since the 1990s, limited the building of affordable housing and impacted equitable access to safe water for too long.  In 2009, the State Water Resources Control Board issued a cease-and-desist order that placed a building moratorium in much of the area, exacerbating the local housing crisis for working families, including military families stationed in the area and workers in the hospitality industry.

“Today’s news is a relief for the tens of thousands of residents and businesses who have been worried about the future of their water supply,” said Yvette Padilla, a Castroville community leader. “Limited water supply has resulted in a building moratorium that has restricted the expansion of affordable housing, has stifled economic growth in the region and has left residents living under the constant threat of water rationing for far too long. The Coastal Commission staff recommendation to approve the MPWSP is the right decision to help our community move forward.”

The project has undergone extensive public review since it was proposed to the California Public Utilities Commission in 2012, including numerous stakeholder meetings and public hearings before multiple state and local government agencies.  California American Water has held more than two dozen additional meetings and community workshops and conducted further extensive outreach to stakeholders in the region over the last four months to gather additional feedback and inform the public about the project. 

In response to community input, California American Water recently announced a phased approach to the project to better fit the needs of the region, including in Marina, where the project’s source water slant wells will be located. Under this approach, the first phase of the project would be built to produce 4.8 million gallons per day. In the future, California American Water could seek approval to expand the project if needed to produce up to 6.4 million gallons per day.  

California American Water also has proposed additional affordability initiatives to ensure that customers needing financial assistance can afford access to adequate water for drinking, sanitation and health needs.  In addition to these important project elements, California American Water has reaffirmed its commitment to renewable energy to ensure the desalination facility has net zero GHG emissions, and to expand the existing groundwater monitoring network with the Monterey County Water Resources Agency to ensure that project operation does not harm local groundwater users.

California American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), provides high-quality and reliable water and wastewater services to more than 725,000 people. Information regarding California American Water’s service areas can be found on the company’s website

Media Contacts

Evan Jacobs

External Affairs Director