The Marin Municipal Water District announced last week it will appeal .
“The Superior Court decision was fundamentally flawed in each of its findings that the EIR was inadequate. We are appealing this decision to preserve the Board’s ability to keep desalination in its portfolio of water supply options," said Paul Hellicker in a press release from MMWD.
A Marin County Superior Court judge ruled on Aug. 15, that MMWD's controversial desalination project hadn't meet legal environmental review standards and that the $100 million plan to remove the salt from bay water before delivering it to customers could not proceed.
"We're pleased with the court's ruling and look forward to implementing it," said Stephen Volker, an attorney representing the North Coast Rivers Alliance and other parties in the lawsuit against MMWD, at the time of the ruling.
Judge Duryee agreed that a more rigorous environmental review process needed to be followed for the project, stating in her ruling, "The Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) was not prepared in compliance with [California Environmental Quality Act] in several respects." Duryee specifically cited concerns about the environmental impact on fish and entrapment of organisms in the desalination intake system.
The desalination plan approved by the MMWD Board would intake five million gallons of water per day from the Bay through an intake system off the coast near the Marin Rod and Gun Club in San Rafael. Reverse osmosis would then be used to remove the salt and solids and to filter the water. The leftover brine would be released back into the Bay and the drinkable water would become available to MMWD customers.
That plan is currently on hold, as the district grapples with declining demand and evaluates its current water use.
"Do we need desalination right at the moment? No," said MMWD General Manager Paul Helliker in August. "That could change."
The district says the project is still on hold, as it has been officially since April. But, because of legal time constraints, the district is moving ahead with appealing the ruling in order to keep that option open. Alternatively, the district could choose to address the aspects of the environmental review deemed insufficient.
“It is essential for MMWD to keep all water supply options open, particularly the uncertainties of climate change, a desalination project may well be part of the solution," said Jack Gibson, president of the MMWD Board of Directors in the press release.
, requiring a public vote before the construction of a desalination plant., which would have required a public vote before consideration or analysis of a desalination plant.
Do you think the district should pursue desalination?