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MMWD Appeals Desalination Decision

Water district will appeal judge's ruling on environmental impact report in order to keep desal plant on the table.

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.

Read Judge Lynn Duryee's full ruling.

"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?

Aaron November 22, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Its a shame that these so called public servants wont serve or listen to the public that is here now. They seem to only work for those that they think will move here after the developers build more.
Jason November 25, 2011 at 04:24 AM
Why not instead use a small portion of that $100 million to provide at least one 50 gallon rainwater harvesting tank to every Marin resident that would like one ~ than install larger tanks in central locations ~ ie: Recreation Centers, Schools, Fire Stations, Shopping Centers (essentially human made water sheds) for back up and possible disaster relief.?.?. Saving for a NON-rainy day! Whatever leftover money was than available could be used for correcting some of our county's infrastructure with better civil engineering ~ Slow, Spread, Sink is what we need to do with our rains, not over tax our storm drains and Bay by quickly pushing away our valuable runoff. It is very likely that we may even be able to get some grant money to supplement any possible remaining cost. Just an idea that I've been wanting to put into action, but I've been way too "swamped" to try to take it all on at the moment... Best, j~
Rico March 01, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Question: Do you think the district should pursue desalination ? Answer: NO !

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