July 20, 2012
The Monterey Peninsula's search for a new water supply took yet another turn Wednesday night, when the Pacific Grove City Council voted to back developer Nader Agha's desalination project in Moss Landing.
By a 5-2 vote, the council agreed to enter a preliminary agreement with Agha, who is proposing what he calls the "People's Desal Project" on his commercial park in Moss Landing.
California American Water, meanwhile, is moving forward with the separate and competing Water Supply Project, which would involve a large desalination plant in north Marina.
The P.G. council's decision contradicted a recommendation from City Manager Tom Frutchey, who warned that Agha's project would probably not receive state approval, among other concerns spelled out in the lengthy staff report.
But the non-committal agreement leaves ample room for the city to pull out and pins most of the related costs on Agha. Council supporters said the deal allows the People's Project to move forward without burdening the city and provides a viable alternative to Cal Am's proposal.
Dissenting were councilmen Robert Huitt and Bill Kampe, who encouraged a more regional approach to the water-supply conundrum. The Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority, a joint powers authority formed by six Peninsula cities (including P.G.), and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management Agency are already looking for solutions.
The MPRWA's technical advisory committee recently analyzed the three desalination proposals—Cal Am's Water Supply Project, Agha's People's Desal Project and Brent Constanz's DeepWater Desal—and placed The People's Project first. Cal Am's proposal ranked last.