Posts Tagged ‘desalination’

by Paul Helliker

On July 26, the MMWD Board of Directors considered an initiative that had been circulated by Marin residents Bill Rothman, Loren Moore and Katherine Jain, for which they received more than 18,000 signatures of registered voters in the district. The board chose to forward the initiative to the Marin County Registrar for placement on the November 2, 2010, election ballot. This initiative would prevent MMWD from taking any further action on desalination, without an election and approval by a majority of voters—including evaluation of the technology; additional environmental studies required by regulatory agencies; assessment of renewable power supplies for a facility; planning, permitting or design of a facility; or construction of the project.

Because of these prohibitions, the MMWD board chose also to adopt an alternative ballot measure for placement on the November ballot. This measure would address the primary concern—construction of a $100 million desalination facility—and would require an election and majority approval before MMWD could proceed with construction or financing for construction.  In advance of a vote, MMWD could proceed to evaluate and study desalination, including determining when it would be appropriate to solicit approval of the voters for such a facility.

Because water demand among MMWD’s customers has dropped by 15 percent in the past 18 months, the desalination project has been placed on hold by the MMWD board. MMWD staff is determining the cause of the reduction in water demand and the projections for demand in the future, and will recommend to the MMWD board in mid-2011 whether or not to reinitiate the desal project.

For recent news stories about the desalination measures, visit the following links:
Water Board Sends Two Desalination Issues to Ballot (Marin IJ)
Dueling Ballot Measures over Marin Desalination  (San Francisco Chronicle)

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by Paul Helliker

At the August 19 meeting the MMWD Board of Directors unanimously approved a 5-million-gallon-per-day (MGD) desalination facility, expandable to 15 MGD, thereby keeping desalination available as one of Marin’s potential future water supply sources.

Earlier this year, on February 11, the board adopted several other water supply options, including operational improvements to the reservoir system, an expansion of MMWD’s recycled water distribution system, investigation into ways to improve the reliability of the district’s Russian River water supply, and further investment in MMWD’s aggressive water conservation program.

The desalination project approved by the board was the primary water supply alternative studied in an environmental impact report (EIR) that was certified by the board on February 4, 2009.

In the process of making their decision, Board members assured the public that each future Board action necessary before a desalination plant could be constructed and operated—such as contracts related to permitting, all design work, the issuance of debt, and the actual construction of a plant itself—would be subject to further public review and comment. In addition, a plan for providing renewable energy for the facility will also be developed and subjected to public review and Board action.

For several years MMWD has been investigating desalination along with a number of other options to provide an adequate and reliable water supply for customers during droughts and in the future. Specifically, MMWD has studied desalination since 1990 and initiated work on the current EIR in 2001.

The Marin Independent Journal has run a number of positive columns on desalination and this decision.  The first is a column by Richard Rubin, which is at:


Dick Spotswood, the political columnist for the Independent Journal, weighed in here:


And the whole editorial board of the Independent Journal provided the following support for MMWD:


The Pacific Sun also provided the following positive take on MMWD’s action:


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