In the News

Desal Task Force: Current Cost Estimate for Proposed Plant in Santa Cruz is '$114 Million'

By Alex Darocy,
Santa Cruz IMC,  10/20/2012

Desalination Task Force in Santa Cruz
Desalination Task Force in Santa Cruz

Program managers delivered a $114 million cost estimate for construction of the proposed desal plant to the members of the Desalination Task Force at their October 17 meeting in Santa Cruz. The $114 million figure is to be considered a range, representing a possible cost of between $97 million and $143 million for the plant, and it does not include the millions spent already during the early phase of planning and promotion of the proposed water project. The EIR review process was also discussed, and a member of the task force mentioned options could include a 60 or 90 day public comment period, to hopefully occur after the holiday season had passed to allow for more public participation.

The program managers of the Desalination Task Force in Santa Cruz discuss in their October 17 report how the first cost estimates associated with the proposed desal plant that were calculated in 2002 to be in the range of $26 million to $53 million arrived at the higher level in 2012. Explaining that inflation was the cause, the new cost estimate range of $97 million to $143 million now assumes that the project, if approved by voters, will be completed in fiscal year 2017/2018.

Opponents of the proposed desal plant, such as members of the Right to Vote on Desal Coalition (in support of a 'yes' on Measure P), are themselves estimating the project to wind up costing $300 million total; according to the Desal Alternatives website, the cost to pursue desalination has already cost taxpayers $17.5 million.

Other interesting topics at the meeting included a discussion of the manner in which water will be transported through the pipeline from the proposed desal plant to various storage facilities, and how if the desal plant were built, some water customers on the westside of Santa Cruz would receive in their homes water that consisted entirely of desalinated water from the plant.

Near the end of the meeting, an individual involved with outreach for the desalination program reported to members of the task force that she had extended offers to meet with the current Santa Cruz City Council candidates (except for Don Lane, he's a Desal Task Force member), but none of them had responded back.

Meetings of the Desalination Task Force are held on the third Wednesday of each month, and the October 17 meeting had only one community member in its audience.

According to the Desalination Task Force's website, "The City of Santa Cruz Water Department (SCWD) and the Soquel Creek Water District (SqCWD) formed the scwd2 Task Force to oversee the Pilot Test Plant Program, the Watershed Sanitary Survey, Intake Study, permitting, environmental review and design of the proposed desalination facility, and to provide a forum for public input on the project and formulate an agreement and governance structure should the decision be made to proceed with a cooperative desalination project. The scwd2 Task Force is comprised of two Santa Cruz City Council Members and two Soquel Creek Water District Board Members."

© 2008-2013 scwd2 Desalination Program, All rights reserved.