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Pure Water Monterey project to get additional funding for $141 million expansion

MONTEREY, Calif. (KION-TV)- UPDATE ON MARCH 16, 2023 AT 5:05 PM- Public Water Now announced Thursday that California Public Utilities Commission will be hearing Cal Am’s request for rehearing the Water Purchase Agreement for the Pure Water Monterey Expansion.

Talks were stalled in Dec. when Cal AM refused to sign the agreement in Dec. claiming that the $61 million it going to collect from ratepayers was not enough to cover the cost of the infrastructure (wells, pumps and pipes) for the expansion that Cal Am would have to build. They asked for an additional $20 million plus.

On Wednesday CPUC’s Public Advocates Office modified the decision on the Water Purchase Agreement for the Pure Water Monterey Expansion that would authorize an additional $10 million from ratepayers. This deal was agreed upon by Cal Am, said Public Water Now.

“It’s good news,” says Melodie Chrislock, director of Public Water Now. “Given the options, this is the only compromise possible. While we recognize that $71 million is far more than is really needed for the Expansion’s infrastructure, we applaud the Public Advocates Office for convincing Cal Am to sign the WPA so the project can move forward. But this whole episode has certainly made it clear that even the CPUC cannot control Cal Am.

“As for Cal Am’s claim that they have always supported the Expansion, everyone involved knows that is not true. Starting with Cal Am’s April 2020 letter to the Monterey One Board opposing certification of the Expansion’s environmental impact report, Cal Am has blocked and stalled this project for the past three years.”

The project will cost Monterey One Water around $70 million to build, said Public Water Now. With Cal Am's added $71 million for infrastructure the total cost is estimated to be $141 million for the 2,250 acre-feet of additional water.  

Local leaders speak on Pure Water Monterey project getting federal funding

UPDATE ON MARCH 6, 2023 AT 12:31 PM- On Monday morning, U.S. District 19 Congressman Jimmy Panetta and local leaders spoke on the federal grant funding of the Pure Water Monterey project.

The project got awarded a $10 million federal investment back in August 2022 as part of President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The project is aimed to create a drought-resistant and independent water supply to meet Monterey County’s water supply challenge.

Monterey One Water General Manager Paul Sciuto said the funding will help increase the production of purified recycled water to support the demand for potable water supply on the Monterey Peninsula.

"We’re going to be able to add an additional 2,250 acre-feet of recycled water, so for a total of 5,750 acre-feet of water per year," Sciuto said. "That represents over 50% of the potable water demand on the Monterey Peninsula.”

Other leaders on hand were State Water Resources Control Board Chair Joaquin Esquivel and Tanya Trujillo who is the assistant secretary for Water and Science for the Department of the Interior.

Panetta spoke on the importance that the project could have on future generations.

"It is nice that we can come together and provide that amount of federal funding for these types of local projects," Panetta said. "I am a community member who lives here and benefits from this project and also knowing my children will also be benefiting from this project as well and their desire to live here.

As part of President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, $8.3 billion will be allocated for the Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure projects over the five years. The projects will look to advance drought resilience and expand access to clean water for families, farmers, and wildlife. The money will also be used for repairing aging water delivery systems and complete rural water projects.

Pure Water Monterey receives over $10 million in federal grant

An expansion of the Pure Water Monterey Project will now be aided by $10,316,822 in federal grant funding.

The U.S. Department of Interior has recognized the project as meeting the Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law requirements.

According to the Bureau of Reclamation’s Commissioner Camille Touton, "Water reuse helps communities diversify their water supply as they are facing an unprecedented drought and a changing climate." Touton went on to add, “This has tangible impacts and can help feed families, grow crops, sustain wildlife and the environment, and help more families access safe, clean, reliable water. These projects will provide flexibility for communities and help them stretch their current drinking supplies as they will be treating wastewater that continues to be available."

The money will be spent to increase the production and injection capacity of purified recycled water to support the potable water supply on the Monterey Penninsula. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation previously gave around $20 million in grants for the Pure Water Monterey Project.

Mary Ann Carbone, M1W Board Chair, and a representative from Sand City said, “Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is very timely as the region is addressing a number of challenges which impact the local water supply. Expansion of PWM is a cost-effective option to provide additional water for the Peninsula.”  Carbone also stated, “We are grateful to the Bureau of Reclamation, Congressman Panetta, and all of our elected officials for supporting this much-needed project.”

Since its inception in early 2020, the project has injected 7,600 AF of purified water into the Seaside Groundwater Basin. Pure Water Monterey is the first potable reuse project in Northern California.

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Ricardo Tovar

Assignment/ Web Manager for KION News Channel 5/46 and Telemundo 23


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