On September 24th, the San Diego County Water Authority’s (“SDCWA”) Board of Directors approved a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton (“MCBCP”) to study seawater intake options for a potential desalination project on the base.
The agreement authorizes a $4.05 million contract for Michael Baker International, Inc. to perform the design, permitting, construction, operation, testing, and reporting on a pilot-scale seawater intake testing program that’s expected to take two years. The testing program will help SDCWA determine “the most environmentally friendly and economically feasible alternatives for water intakes,” according to Mark Weston, Chairman of SDCWA’s board.
The framework for cooperation between the MCBCP and SDCWA was established in an earlier April 2010 Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU2010”). The MOU2010 did not commit either party to advance the project beyond the planning studies it outlined, and terminated in 2013 upon conclusion of the technical studies. The newly approved MOU renews this cooperation, and similarly does not commit either party to further project advancement after the testing program is completed.
The new MOU outlines that the MCBCP has authority over all activities on their property, and must ensure that no activities associated with the desalination plant conflict with or impede MCBCP’s primary mission of military operations, training or security. The SDCWA must apply for Licenses for Nonfederal Use of Real Property, as pieces of federal land will be used on a short-term basis for these operations. SDCWA will also be required to apply for coastal development and other state permits as needed. Primary and secondary representatives will be defined for both MCBCP and SDCWA for all interactions to ensure expeditious application for and issuance of licenses and other permissions.
Operation of the pilot plant will be maintained by SDCWA and will commence for a minimum of one year, and will not exceed 18 months, in order to capture seasonal variations in ocean conditions. SDCWA may conduct tours of the proposed project location for involved and interested parties, but must be registered and coordinated with MCBCP. Under this MOU, SDCWA accepts responsibility for all environmental compliance relevant to the California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Policy Act, and must disclose all environmental implications of its actions.
If the Camp Pendleton Plant is developed, it would initially produce 50 million gallons of water per day, with potential future expansion to a capacity of 150 million gallons per day. The plant would not come online until after 2030, and its advancement to completion still depends on future regional water supplies and demands. This would be the second desalination plant for SDCWA, who is opening its Carlsbad Desalination Plant in mid-December. These desalination plants are part of the SDCWA’s multi-decade water supply diversification strategy, which includes water reuse and recycling, groundwater development, and the acquisition of independent and highly reliable water transfers from the Colorado River. Along with regional conservation efforts, this is helping the San Diego region weather significant drought now and far into the future.
Written by Stratecon Staff