“During the dry years, the people forgot about the rich years, and when the wet years returned, they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.” — John Steinbeck, ‘East of Eden’
Environmental calamities recently have battered California with alarming frequency. Over the past year, we have suffered the most damaging wildfires in our history. But, as in Steinbeck’s era, chronic water scarcity remains our most serious environmental problem.
In some corners of the state, extreme water conservation has become a year-round way of life. This is certainly the case on the Monterey Peninsula.
The region is the state in microcosm. Rainfall is infrequent. Groundwater is scarce. The aquifers are depleted. Farmers don’t have enough water for their crops. And the state has determined that the Carmel River can no longer be used as a source of fresh water for the community. In short, Monterey has all of the state’s water problems, all in the same spot.
But there is a solution on the horizon. And it’s the same solution that, on a bigger scale, can help solve the state’s water problems: the Pacific Ocean.
On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission has the opportunity to grant final approval of an ocean desalination project that, when completed, will solve the Monterey Peninsula’s water woes. But more significantly, it will also serve as a working model of desalination done right.
The Monterey project has three aspects that make it work so well […]