MONTEREY PENINSULA, Calif. (KION) A dramatic reversal in the plan for a controversial desalination plant in Marina where late Wednesday afternoon, California American Water withdrew their permit application on the cusp of a big decision by a state commission.
This comes after two Monterey Peninsula mayors issued a joint opinion piece in The Sacramento Bee voicing opposition to the project.
In anticipation of the California Coastal Commission's meeting and vote on Thursday on whether to approve this desal project, which was expected to last from morning to midnight, Seaside Mayor Ian Oglesby and Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado published their statements in the newspaper early Wednesday morning saying "as two mayors of color," they are against the project.
They argued it "would impose environmental injustice and economic racism on the people" of their respective cities. Mayor Delgado says he believes communities of color like Marina are disproportionately burdened by industrial facilities like sewage treatment plants, landfills and outdoor composting facilities. Adding a new desal plant would just add to the disparity.
But after years of battling it out with cities and local activist groups, Cal Am's desal project seems to be on hold for now.
"The overwhelming of people and elected officials such as Senator Monning and Assemblyperson Mark Stone are on our side of environmental justice and economic justice," said Mayor Delgado.
Both mayors are looking to the expansion of Pure Water Monterey, that they believe is a far more cost-effective solution for the water needs in the region.
"Burdening Marina with all the harm without giving Marina a drop of the water. And there's an environmental injustice in the Cal Am service area where people who can't afford it are going to be required to spend more money on water unnecessarily," said Mayor Delgado.
But Cal Am representatives told KION the desal project is still the most feasible and environmentally sound option to solve the water crisis on the peninsula.
"The project is a benefit to the entire region by solving the long term water supply issues on the Monterey Peninsula that have been an impediment to housing and jobs and all sorts of issues that are important, not just to our customers, but the region as a whole," said Catherine Stedman, a Cal Am spokesperson.
Cal Am did not get back to KION for comment after the application withdrawal was announced. But in their letter, the company did say they plan to resubmit an application at a future date.
The state has ordered Cal Am to stop pumping water out of the Carmel River by next year. This is why the company is looking for new water sources.
UPDATE 9/16/2020 4:30 p.m. California American Water has withdrawn its application for to build a desalination plant in Marina.
The State Coastal Commission was set to make a decision on the project Thursday.
KION's Josh Kristianto will have more from two Monterey Peninsula mayors who voiced their concerns about the project tonight at 5 and 6.
See the withdrawal letter below.
PREVIOUS STORY: Two Monterey Peninsula area mayors are voicing concerns over a desal plant project.
Seaside Mayor Ian Oglesby and Marine Mayor Bruce Delgado both issued an opinion piece in newspapers voicing their opposition to the project.
KION’s Josh Kristianto will have more at 5 and 6.