To provide a substitute water supply to its customers on the Monterey Peninsula and comply with orders to cease excess withdrawals from its primary water sources, California American Water Company (Cal-Am) proposed a three-component water project. Component #1, which would be owned and operated by Cal-Am, is a seawater desalination facility that would use subsurface intakes and be sized to create upwards of 9,000 acre-feet of fresh water per year. Component #2 is a recycled water/groundwater replenishment project, which would be owned and operated by the Monterey Water Pollution Control Agency, and would be sized at 3,500 acre-feet per year. Component #3 is the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District's aquifer storage and recovery project, which diverts winter flows from the Carmel River and stores them in the groundwater basin.
The Monterey Chapter participated in the California Public Utilities Commission proceeding that determined whether or not Cal-Am, an investor-owned utility, would be allowed to pursue this project. The proceeding concluded in September 2018. Through the chapter's participation and representation by Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP, Surfrider was able to successfully influence the outcome of the process and approved project to reduce the size of the approved .The Public Utilities Commission’s decision approves a 6.4 MGD (~2,933 acre-feet per year) seawater desalination plant which will indirectly draw water through environmentally-preferable slant wells to minimize impacts to marine life. This desalination plant is part of the broader Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project, which also includes 3,500 acre-feet per year of supply contributed by the Pure Water Monterey Groundwater Replenishment Project, which will recycle wastewater. Surfrider also advocated for and secured specific measures to be implemented to mitigate impacts from brine discharge and have net zero greenhouse gas emissions.