Nearly a year after a recommendation to city council to explore ways to diversify our water supply, seawater desalination continues to emerge as the best option, according to city staff. It won’t be much longer before they decide on the best place to build that facility.
“Soon, we will be making recommendations for sites in the Inner Harbor and one in the La Quinta Channel area,” Steve Ramos, water resource manager, told city council members during a presentation at this week’s meeting.
Ramos says the exact locations should be presented to council by August. That announcement is part of the ongoing study to find new sources of water for the city, particularly those that are drought-resistant. Other alternative supplies being considered are groundwater, water reuse, and aquifer storage and recovery.
“What we want the community to know is that we have a plan and that we have multiple sources of new water identified for possible development in our community,” Ramos added.
Still, he said desal is the clear front runner. When the city put out a request for information about other water sources, they received ten responses and six were about desal. Those companies now have rules to follow, including a “no contact” period to ensure the eventual bidding on this project is fair.
However, Mayor Joe McComb says he recently heard from one of them about meeting for lunch. He says he immediately notified city staff when that happened .. and urges other council members to do the same to protect a project that’s so important to the city’s future.
“One, I don’t want any proposer disqualified because of a violation of a code of ethics or the bidding process, and I don’t want to get the council into any kind of trouble,” McComb said.
After the sites are announced in August, the city says the next major steps in the desal plant project include determining the exact funding sources, preparing formal requests for proposal and awarding a contract.