California Coast and Desalination

Posted by Christine, July 2, 2012

The governing board of Cambria, California has pursued desalination as a solution to water shortage since the 1990s. A loyal opposition has resisted, insisting the board determine actual water use and availability to base its decisions on facts and abide by laws requiring conservation and Best Practices before developing expensive options. GreenSpace, a local organization, developed the information independently when the board failed to do so.

July 1, 2012
PRESS RELEASE from Wayne Attoe, President
GREENSPACE- the Cambria Land Trust
P.O. Box 1505
Cambria, CA 93428
Our Mission: The North Coast area of San Luis Obispo County is a national treasure. Greenspace will protect and enhance its ecological systems, cultural resources and marine habitats through land acquisition and management, public education and advocacy.
In keeping with our mission the GREENSPACE Directors support policies and promote programs that provide Cambria residents and businesses a reasonable amount of water without doing further harm to the watersheds, forest, fisheries, and other water dependent resources we treasure. We support an environmentally sound, comprehensive and integrated water strategy that includes elements of both supply augmentation and demand reduction.
Water is a limited resource. We support conservation and efficient water use as the preferred means of securing water supply and managing demand.
We are located in a sensitive environment. We support the precautionary principle that water policies and construction projects entail the least practicable harm to the environment with minimal reliance on mitigation.
We need to expand conservation efforts—including washing machine rebates, limiting outdoor irrigation, drought resistant landscaping, increased water storage, infrastructure maintenance and water recycling.
We need to explore storage alternatives and regional solutions.
We need to reexamine solutions to Cambria’s long term water requirements. The Kennedy/Jenks Assessment of Long-Term Water Supply Alternatives of 2004, needs to be independently reviewed and the alternatives reevaluated by a qualified and impartial group in light of new information and circumstances. GREENSPACE board resolution June 14, 2011.
GREENSPACE-the Cambria Land Trust, in an ongoing effort to provide timely information on local environmental issues, is reexamining past efforts to meeting Cambria’s long term
2 GREENSPACE– the Cambria Land Trust
water needs. Utilizing the expertise of James Fryer, former head of Marin Municipal Water District’s water conservation programs and author of “An Investigation of the Marginal Cost of Seawater Desalination in California”, GREENSPACE has obtained an independent examination of the costs of providing desalinated water to Cambria. James Fryer provides environmental consulting services on water management and conservation issues for a variety of private, non-profit and public natural resources management clients. Mr. Fryer applies over 20 years of experience working on freshwater, estuarine, and marine conservation policies, programs and projects to the issue of desalination that has been the primary focus of Cambria’s search for a long term water supply solution. He has produced numerous papers and reports on water management policies, practices and economics, and conducted sophisticated GIS analysis of watershed and water management issues.
“A Review of Water Use & Water Management Alternatives in Cambria, California” by James Fryer is the result of this investigation. Analyzing both historic and current water use records, Mr. Fryer is able to identify water use trends and patterns, conservation opportunities and likely future needs in Cambria, California. Comparing costs to produce equivalent water supplies through seawater desalination at other facilities is an important tool is assessing realistic costs local planners will encounter. This comparison suggests that water produced by seawater desalination in Cambria will be two to three times more expensive than the costs presently identified by CCSD. Re-examining long term solutions in light of realistic cost estimates provides a framework for judging costs for alternatives such as conservation and recycling. Further analysis of regional solutions, conservation, recycling and storage alternatives will profit from the information obtained by Mr. Fryer.
The environment of Cambria includes both the rare Monterey Pine forest on land and the world renowned biological riches of our local coastal waters. Increased urbanization and development directly affect Cambria’s sensitive forest ecology. Desalination requires installation of intake and outfall pipelines in pristine and highly protected waters, where none exist today. The ocean bears the consequences of our human presence directly when desalination is considered. Mr. Fryer’s report provides one tool towards the application of the ‘precautionary principle’ in developing water policies and construction projects in Cambria.
For more information
“Seawater is not just water, but habitat. It provides the matrix in which innumerable organisms live, and serves a critical role in everything from the food web to the climate. Although there is a vast amount of seawater on the planet, and on the California coast, it is subject to significant adverse effects at the local and regional scale that can diminish its ecosystem value and its value to society.”
Seawater Desalination and the CA Coastal Act 2004