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Business Wire 18-Sep-2023 8:51 PM
Decision upholds years of rigorous environmental review
On September 9th, 2023 the Sixth Appellate District of California's Court of Appeals upheld the County of Monterey's decision to authorize permits for construction of California American Water's Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project desalination facility. In 2019, the California Public Utilities Commission, the lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act, completed six years of environmental review, certified a Final Environmental Impact Report, and issued a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the project.
The County subsequently relied on the CPUC's certified EIR in issuing its permit. Marina Coast Water District (MCWD) filed suit in Monterey Superior Court against the County and California American Water, alleging that additional environmental review was required. On April 29th, 2021 the trial court dismissed some of the claims made by MCWD but ruled in favor of MCWD on one limited challenge. The trial court's decision was appealed by the County and California American Water. The Appellate Court's September 9th, 2023 ruling reverses the judgement of the lower court and requires a new judgement rejecting all of MCWD's claims in their entirety. It also requires MCWD to pay the legal costs incurred by the County and California American Water.
In its decision, the Court of Appeal stated that: "On the County and Cal-Am's appeal, we conclude that the County's statement of overriding considerations was supported by substantial evidence and any remaining deficiency in the statement as an informational document was not prejudicial. On MCWD's cross-appeal, we are not persuaded that the trial court erred in rejecting MCWD's other contentions. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment."
"This ruling is a victory for a sustainable water future for our region," said Josh Stratton, California American Water External Affairs Manager. "We are diligently advancing our efforts to protect the Carmel River by working with our partners on new supplies for the Monterey Peninsula and desalination is key part of our future water resources."
The desalination plant is one of three major components that California American Water – the Peninsula's water provider – has supported to diversify the area's water supply and relieve the over-drafted Carmel River aquifer. The other two components of the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project are aquifer storage and recovery and a groundwater replenishment and recycled water project that together with other smaller projects will bring drought-proof and environmentally sustainable water supplies to the Monterey Peninsula.
About California American Water:
California American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE:AWK), provides high-quality and reliable water and wastewater services to more than 725,000 people. Information regarding California American Water's service areas can be found on the company's website www.californiaamwater.com.
About American Water:
With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 6,500 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and regulated-like drinking water and wastewater services to more than 14 million people in 24 states. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable, and reliable water services to our customers to help keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit amwater.com and diversityataw.com. Follow American Water on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.