Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county
Club proposes water supply plan for Monterey Peninsula area
by Julie Engell
In conjunction with several other community organizations, the Ventana Chapter has proposed the Hybrid Regional Plan, a water-supply project for the Monterey Peninsula and other areas within the California-American (CalAm) Water service district.
For decades, the Chapter has worked to protect watersheds like the Carmel River. We have also advocated for a sustainable water supply for the communities dependent upon that watershed. A sustainable water supply starts with using existing resources before developing costly projects such as the large desalination alternatives proposed in CalAm’s Coastal Water Project DEIR.
Each of the alternatives evaluated in the DEIR has serious pitfalls. In the interests of avoiding them and expediting a real water supply solution, the Ventana Chapter, along with other non-profit community organizations, developed the Hybrid Regional Plan.
We did NOT propose a new approach. Rather, we proposed using a mix of the best elements evaluated in the Coastal Water Project DEIR, as well as some projects already in place. Within the data presented and analyzed were significant amounts of water available through conservation, leak repair, recycling, and reclamation—water that proponents of other plans chose to exclude. Because of our simultaneous commitment to people and to the environment, we chose to include these sources, which will reduce dependence upon desalinated water—a fiscally- and environmentally-costly water source.
In mid-July, the Ventana Chapter presented our joint proposal at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) public hearings in Monterey. According to PUC staff, the Public Utilities Commissioners are not bound by any one alternative evaluated in the DEIR. Commissioners may mix and match programs and elements evaluated in the DEIR to create the final Coastal Water Project. In that vein, the chapter presented the Hybrid Regional Plan—an environmentally-superior mix—for the PUC's consideration.
Depending upon need for further environmental review, the PUC is projected to make a final decision on the Coastal Water Project in late 2009 or early 2010.