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In The News

Redwood Shores Desalination Plant a Possibility for Saltworks Water Supply

The city’s consultants on the proposed Cargill/DMB development have explored a multitude of options.

By Stacie Chan
Redwood City Patch, 2/16/12

The developers of the proposed Cargill Saltworks development are looking towards desalination as a potential water supply for its future 30,000 residents. It is one of many options the developer is eyeing to make the project feasible. 

The location of the potential desalination plant, however, is yet to be determined, but the DMB-funded consultants have begun looking into the Redwood Shores area north of the San Carlos Airport.

In consultant Hart Howerton’s September report, sent to the city monthly, the consultant listed “preliminary investigation of San Carlos Airport Land Use planning for evaluation of requirements for developing the land north of the airport for desalination facilities.”

Bill Ekern, the city’s community development director, added that the city was not looking into site specific locations, but what characteristics a site would need to hold a desalination plant.

The developer hasn’t identified desalination as the definitive water supply in its application, but the city is exploring it as a possibility.

 “We’re just trying to be as smart as we can,” Ekern said. The city is also still exploring the possibility of water transfer from Kern County.

The extensive process is a popular source of water treatment around the world, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, but not common to the Bay Area.

Josh Sonnenfield of Save the Bay said he was concerned about potential impacts desalination could have on the surrounding natural habitats. 

“We don’t know what the intake of all that water will do to wildlife,” he said. “We can’t assume we can just keep taking water from the Bay forever.”

As part of their desalination analysis, consultants had several conference calls discussing a desalination case in San Rafael, which has run into lawsuits and opposition from environmentalists. The Marin Municipal Water District recently appealed the court’s ruling that the environmental impact report did not adequately study impacts to marine life.

Residents of the city of Santa Cruz have similarly begun protests against a desalination plant by circulating a petition.

On the topic, consultants spoke with Cecily Barclay, from environmental consultant Perkins Cole, who specializes in land development and appropriative water rights. They also worked with Kennedy Jenks, another engineering and environmental consultant. Hart Howerton charged $83,765 for studying desalination up until October.

The consultants have done no further investigation of desalination as a potential water source or any other analysis because DMB Pacific Ventures instructed the city on the project, according to Ekern. Developers plan to submit a revised application in early 2012.


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