Cal Am sticks to 6-month desal project permitting window

Monterey >> A California American Water official argued the company’s desalination project can secure key permits and approvals within six months of certification of the final project environmental review document and start construction shortly afterward, despite a series of delays involving the draft report and the prospect of seeking a critical permit from the city of Marina.
By contrast, backers of the Pure Water Monterey groundwater replenishment project have indicated they’re on the verge of securing key permits and low-cost financing, and could start construction in the next few months.
Cal Am project manager Ian Crooks told the Monterey Peninsula mayors water authority’s technical advisory committee on Monday that he believed key project permits and approvals could be secured by mid-2018, following certification of the final combined environmental impact report and environmental impact assessment by the end of this year.
That would allow construction to start by the end of September next year.
The company’s schedule calls for completing the desal project by late 2019 and starting water deliveries by early 2020.
“Six months is what we’re shooting for,” Cal Am spokeswoman Catherine Stedman said.
In all, Cal Am must secure more than three dozen permits, according to a permit matrix included in the draft combined environmental report.
According to a series of milestones in the state water board’s river pumping cutback order, Cal Am must secure the CPUC permit by Sept. 30 next year, start project construction by Sept. 30, 2019, and finish construction and start water deliveries by the end of 2021, allowing the reduction of river water diversions to the authorized 3,376 acre-feet per year.
Missed milestones could result in losing up to 1,000 acre-feet per year in river water diversions and fines until the milestones are reached and the project is completed.
Meanwhile, Sciuto said he expects 1-percent state loan financing to be finalized next week, along with key permits such as water rights, triggering the start of construction within a few months – ahead of the September milestone in the river cutback order.

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