Thursday, April 13, 2006
Across the globe, drinking water is growing critically scarce. In some countries, people have died defending their rights to it. But in Marina, according to data being used by Marina Coast Water District (which supplies Marina’s drinking water), there’s plenty to go around.
On April 12, the water district was slated to consider leasing 300-acre feet of water—all of it belonging to central Marina ratepayers—to developers on the former Fort Ord. Three-hundred-acre feet of water equals almost 100 million gallons, enough to submerge a football field in a pool of water 300-feet deep.
Any decision taken at the water district’s board meeting occurred after the Weekly’s deadline.
According to Marc Lucca, general manager for the water district, developers approached the district last year. They wanted to use Marina’s desalination plant. The plant was built in 1996 with $2.3 million. Central Marina water users (about 4,000) paid for most of the construction costs.
While the desal plant has been idle for a few years—it needs a new pump in order to operate—it was originally intended to serve as an emergency water backup for central Marina, which gets most of its water from the Salinas Basin. The plant was also designed to allow for future growth in central Marina.
If the desal plant is leased to the developers of projects like Cypress Knolls—which reportedly lacks water under development guidelines set by the Fort Ord Reuse Authority—some fear that potential future urban growth in central Marina may be jeopardized.
“Central Marina’s water rights are being eroded,” says Quinton Roland, an urban planner and former staff member in Marina’s planning department who is also a champion of downtown Marina development. “I’ve contacted dozens of central Marina businesses and residents and none of them are aware that their water supply rights have been declared surplus and possibly committed indefinitely to other service areas.”