Baykeeper Update

Baykeeper Questions the Bay Area Regional Desalination Project

Baykeeper submitted comments to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) on June 13, 2011 regarding a proposed desalination plant in East Contra Costa County. This letter was submitted in response to a proposal being evaluated by SFPUC, which considers whether to provide an additional $200,000 for studies in support of the permitting and environmental review processes for a desalination project at a currently undefined location in East Contra Costa County.

Nearly a decade ago, SFPUC, in collaboration with three other significant Bay Area water districts, conceived the Bay Area Regional Desalination Project, which aims to meet future demands for the region by providing approximately 70 million gallons a day to the four water districts involved. Since that time a pilot program was completed in the Carquinez Strait near Pittsburg, although the water districts involved failed to analyze the consultant documents prepared in support of that study, update the projected needs from the project or carry out a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether desalination, in general, is the most prudent approach to satisfying future water needs.

Baykeeper feels this the project is proceeding without clear direction or specifications regarding projected needs and could lead to wasteful spending of ratepayer fees. We asked SFPUC to consider some critical questions and assess whether desalination in close proximity to the already strained Sacramento - San Joaquin River Delta is absolutely necessary.