Plans for an ocean desalination plant in Dana Point are nearing completion with the release of the project’s final Environmental Impact Report(EIR) and an upcoming public meeting to review its findings and consider certification.
The publication of the final EIR—released on Monday by South Coast Water District, which provides water to several South County cities and some Laguna Beach residents—marks the last step in the environmental review process for the Doheny Ocean Desalination Project. The analysis evaluates the possible environmental impacts of producing desalinated drinking water.
The proposed facility would be located on district-owned property on the east side of San Juan Creek, and it would have an initial capacity of up to 5 million gallons of desalinated water per day (MGD), which would produce about 75 percent of the district’s potable water supply.
District officials say the cost would total about $100 million, and if approved, the plant could begin producing potable water as soon as 2021. Over a 30-year period, the proposed 5 MGD facility would raise SCWD rates 1.8 percent or $1.54 per month for Tier 1 customers whose monthly water bills average $87.60 a month, according to a 2017 SCWD report.
“At present, the District has received a $10 million grant from the State of California under Proposition 1, and is pursuing additional funding and loan programs,” officials said in the final EIR. “These include a State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan through the State Water Resources Control Board (for low interest loans), a potential federal grant through the Bureau of Reclamation (pending), and a request to Metropolitan Water District to include the project in its Local Resources Program financial assistance.”
Like the draft EIR released in May 2018, the final report states that if built, the project will not have any “unavoidable significant environmental impacts.” The final EIR states that since the first draft was released, there have been no “new or more severe impacts” identified and no new feasible project alternatives or mitigation measures identified. The Final EIR also includes responses to comments received on the Draft EIR.
The SCWD Board of Directors will hold a public hearing to review the final EIR, receive input, and potentially certify the report, on Thursday, June 27, from 6-8 p.m. at Aventura Sailing Association, 24707 Dana Drive, Dana Point. For those unable to attend in person, the meeting will be livestreamed on the South Coast Water District’s YouTube page. To view the EIR in its entirety, visit www.scwd.org/desal.