Marina >> A split Marina Coast Water District board decided to resume its previous quest for a desalination plant, with a goal of providing a new potable water supply within two years to new development in Fort Ord, including Monterey Downs.
According to board member Peter Le, who cast the swing vote in a 3-2 tally with fellow members Howard Gustafson and Bill Lee on Wednesday night, the 2,700-acre-foot per year desal plant would be operational in two years after an already completed environmental impact report is updated.
About 2,400 acre-feet per year of the plant’s capacity would go to the Ord Community, served by the Marina Coast Water District, including the controversial 710-acre Monterey Downs race track, commercial and residential development. That project has been criticized for not having enough water to serve its projected needs.
Le, who helped end the district’s pursuit of a desal plant two years ago, said he only decided to reverse course after several attempts to convince Fort Ord Reuse Authority officials to redistribute existing water allocations to pending development on a first-come, first-served basis rather than by jurisdiction, or to allow the Army or CSU Monterey Bay to lease their unused water allocations to Fort Ord development.
Wednesday’s vote authorized interim general manager Bill Kocher to seek firms to conduct environmental review, prepare a financing plan, and design and build the project. Inquiries are expected to be issued by the first week in February, according to Le.
The board also approved, by a 4-1 vote, a bid to annex the Cemex sand mining plant where Cal Am plans to locate slant wells to feed its own desal plant project. Cal Am is currently drilling test wells there that are being challenged in court by Marina Coast and the Ag Land Trust.
The annexation, contemplated for two decades, will be contingent on Cemex ownership’s willingness to be annexed into the water district, Le said, and could also be completed within two years.
Le said Marina Coast could seek to place one of two planned vertical desal intake wells on the Cemex site.
Jim Johnson can be reached at 726-4348.
Correction: An earlier version of this story inaccurately identified the water service provider for the Ord Community. The Marina Coast Water District serves the community, not California American Water.