Pure Water Monterey recycled water project hailed at groundbreaking, challenges remain
Pure Water Monterey recycled water project hailed at groundbreaking, challenges remain.
But a key official acknowledged the already complex project still faces a number of hurdles before it begins construction or operation, including potential cost overruns that could end up on Monterey Peninsula water bills and a complicated discharge permit.
Local, state and federal public officials hailed a key milestone for the $100 million groundwater replenishment project backed by a public-private partnership between the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and California American Water, as well as a range of other local public agencies, that would tap various Monterey Peninsula and Salinas Valley wastewater sources for treatment to drinking water standards for use by Peninsula homes and businesses, and for expanded Salinas Valley agricultural irrigation.
The ceremony was held at the recycled water plant project site near the existing Pollution Control Agency wastewater treatment plant.
The proposal is designed to provide 3,500 acre-feet of potable water for injection into the Seaside basin, where it will mix with other water sources and eventually be pumped out for later use, allowing Cal Am to purchase the water for its Monterey district customers by mid-2019, and allow a corresponding reduction in Carmel River water use well before Cal Am’s pending desalination plant project is expected to be online.
Water management district general manager Dave Stoldt dubbed the proposal a “project for the future” that could be replicated statewide as California prepares its water supply to meet the needs of the estimated 50 million residents expected by 2050.
However, the first round of bids on the core portion of the project — the plant and pump station — came in about $12.3 million higher than the $41.5 million budget, prompting the agency to pursue a second round of bids after making a series of changes designed to reduce costs and attract more bidders, including “elongating” the 18-month construction schedule to 21 months, and setting a meeting with contractors next week to solicit further cost-savings ideas.
However, if the bids remain significantly higher than budget, Sciuto said the agency might have to return to the state Public Utilities Commission to request an increase in the $1,720-per-acre-foot cost cap that Cal Am customers would pay for the water, and would likely also have to ask the agency board for permission to proceed with construction even with the cost overage.
Further complicating the issue, the agency is also seeking permission to add brine from the planned Cal Am desal plant as part of the permit.
This project is going to be finished.” Jim Johnson can be reached at 831-726-4348.