The Green Party of California Opposes the CalAm Desalination Project in Monterey County

The Green Party of California opposes the California American Water (CalAm) Slant Well Desalination Project in Monterey County

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Laura Wells,

October 16, 2019, San Francisco, CA - The Green Party of California released the following statement in opposition to the California American Water (CalAm) Slant Well Desalination Project and sent a letter to the California Coastal Commission (CCC) stating concerns about the project’s environmental and social justice impact and urging the commission to deny the project permit in favor of proven, environmentally just, and responsible alternatives.

The CalAm Desalination Project proposes to build slant wells within the City of Marina in Monterey County. CalAm would pump fresh and brackish groundwater for desalinization in order to provide drinking water solely for the more affluent neighboring communities such as Carmel. The California Coastal Commission has been in the process of assessing the project for months and is scheduled to complete a staff report prior to the November 14th commission hearing.

"The CalAm project is wrong on so many levels," says Marina Mayor and California Green Party member Bruce Delgado. "Besides threatening the fresh groundwater on which Marina’s low-income community depends for its drinking water, this experimental, $1.2 Billion project would permanently destroy dune habitats slated for protection.”
Noting that the working-class ethnically diverse City of Marina is already burdened with industrial facilities such as the regional landfill and sewage plant, Mayor Delgado says “This is environmental injustice at its worst. It benefits CalAm’s shareholders but would cost ratepayers 3 times as much as the environmentally friendlier recycled water option that all local water agencies support.”

“Since the slant well technology is still experimental, there’s a high risk of seawater intrusion into the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin," says Marina Water Conservation Commission member and Green Party activist Audra Walton. "If our groundwater is contaminated, Marina residents will be forced to find other sources of water, most likely with CalAm, and we will end up paying a much higher price than what we are paying now with the Marina Coast Water District."

"Decisions about water must be based on an integrated ecosystems approach and with the collaboration of all stakeholders," says Green Party of California spokesperson Laura Wells. "This ensures responsible water use and limits environmental injustice, ecological impact, and depletion of groundwater supplies. That is why the Green Party of California joins the Citizens for Just Water group to oppose this environmentally and socially irresponsible project."

The alternative solution would expand the existing Pure Water Monterey recycled water project and cost $200M to build. This approach focuses on the replenishment of the groundwater supply and protection of the environment, and is considered a more sustainable and cost-effective solution compared to the CalAm project. (

Green Party of California's water platform plank ( emphasizes a holistic ‘watershed approach’ to managing our desert state's precious water resources, so in that perspective, the Pure Water Monterey Project aligns well with the Green Party’s platform on water management. The platform stresses that the principle of bioregionalism - living within the means of a region's natural resources - as well as water conservation must be essential parts of any responsible and sustainable water policy.

The Green Party of California also believes that access to clean, potable, and affordable water is a basic human right, a principle which is shared by the State Water Resources Board and its human-right-to-water policies. “It is, unfortunately, a right that is denied to many low-income and marginalized communities, even more so in a drought-stricken state like California,” states Laura Wells. “We believe GPCA has a responsibility to support the local environmental and social justice organizations who are challenging the for-profit industry taking control of the water supply their communities depend on.”

- Green Party of California

Details on the Green Party of California's water platform plank at
Learn more about concerns regarding CalAm project at


The GPCA Letter to the California Coastal Commission in Opposition to the CalAm Project

California Coastal Commissioners and Chair, Dayna Bochco
Executive Director, John Ainsworth
Senior Environmental Scientist, Tom Luster
Public Information Officer Noaki Schwartz

Maxine Daniel
Coordinating Committee Alternate Co-Coordinator
The Green Party of California

Re: Environmental Justice issues related to the CalAm Slant Well Desalination Project

Date: October 15, 2019

Dear Chair Dayna Bochco and Coastal Commissioners:
The Green Party of California urges the California Coastal Commission (CCC) to deny the CalAm Desalination Project Coastal Development Permit. We encourage the CCC to instead support alternatives such as the proven and environmentally just recycling approaches used by the Pure Water Monterey Project.

The current CalAm project will have significant environmental and social justice impact on the Communities of Marina and former Fort Ord. CalAm, a for-profit private corporation, would be illegally extracting groundwater from under the neighboring disadvantaged community of Marina harming the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin, and jeopardizing the integrity of the water source that provides 100% of Marina’s water needs.

Marina is a unique community, with a working-class ethnic population, many of whom do not read or speak English. It is a “disadvantaged community” under federal and state definitions, with a census track that is one of the most burdened in the State.
The project would impose an unfair industrial burden on Marina which is already saddled with a disproportionate number of industrial regional facilities, waste management, landfill and sewage plant, anaerobic digester, regional beach sand mining, etc. Adding yet another facility that imposes the primary burden of construction and operation on this community is true environmental injustice, particularly because the City of Marina will not even receive any of the desalinated water the project would produce.
All of the benefits of this project will go to the wealthier communities on the Peninsula along with CalAm shareholders, while the social, economic and environmental burdens would be imposed by Marina residents.

The environmental impact of this project is also very concerning, as it would cause permanent damage to environmentally sensitive habitat areas on Marina’s shoreline, destroying important dune ecosystems on which many species depend, and upon which Marina’s tourism industry relies. It would lead to discharging high volumes of brine into the ocean, emitting high levels of CO2 into the atmosphere leading to unnecessary health risks, and also to inducing further seawater intrusion into the groundwater basin.
Furthermore, the project completely undermines the decades-long efforts by the City to end the destructive sand mining operations on the CEMEX site in favor of conservation and recreation. The CEMEX industrial facility, would be replaced by yet another environmentally impactful industrial project.
One of the worst consequences of this project would be its adverse impact on current groundwater supply and the resulting access and cost issues for residents.
Currently, water supplied by the Marina Coast Water District is low cost and affordable. If the groundwater basin is adversely impacted by the CalAm project, through seawater intrusion, the residents of Marina will be forced to find other sources of water, most likely with CalAm, whose customers currently pay the highest water rates in the nation ( The expected enormous rate increases for this essential resource, would likely force many residents out of the area who are already financially struggling given the State’s shortage of affordable housing. A report by Azul on the impact of water costs in disadvantaged communities clearly demonstrates these concerns. (

Alternative projects using recycled water approaches that cost far less are already in process of being completed in Monterey County that would make desalination projects such as CalAm’s superfluous. Unlike the slant well drilling which is still experimental, the use of recycled water has already been proven successful in many coastal regions such as Orange county, where it is now the norm. Recycled water also cost far less than

In summary, the many concerns raised by the CalAm Desalination Project Coastal Development make it an unacceptable and unjust environmental and social burden on Marina and former Fort Ord Communities. This is a high-risk project in an ill-advised location, and could forever adversely impact the lives and livelihood of an already disadvantaged community, as well as this fragile coastal environment.
The Green Party of California urges the CCC to deny a permit for this project for the many reasons listed above but particularly because it is not consistent with the Commission’s goal to prevent environmental injustice imposed on our coastal communities.

Maxine Daniel

Coordinating Committee, Alternate Co-Coordinator
The Green Party of California