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About 60 people attended the South Coast Water District’s March 31 public scoping meeting for its ocean desalination plant project, one of the first steps toward completing the environmental impact report for the project. SCWD expects the plant to be completed by 2020. Photo: Andrea Swayne
About 60 people attended the South Coast Water District’s March 31 public scoping meeting for its ocean desalination plant project, one of the first steps toward completing the environmental impact report for the project. SCWD expects the plant to be completed by 2020. Photo: Andrea Swayne

By Andrea Swayne

The South Coast Water District held a March 31 special meeting in Dana Point on moving ahead with its proposed ocean desalination plant project.

The scoping meeting provided an overview of the project and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process and collected public input for preparation of the draft Environmental Impact Report. The 30-day public review period for preparation of the draft EIR concludes April 12.

The desal plant—to be located on the district’s 30 acres near San Juan Creek with three wells on Doheny Beach—was first proposed in 2003 as a means to create a more secure and more locally controlled water supply. A successful pilot plant slant well test was performed from 2008 to 2013.

Originally an effort by a group of five agencies, the cities of San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano, Moulton Niguel Water District and Laguna Beach County Water District have since left the project, however all remain interested in the pricing of its future water production.

According to initial estimates, the plant is expected to carry a final price tag of at least $90 million. SCWD, now the lone agency on the project (with technical assistance from MWDOC) is continuing to explore funding options via potential partnerships, grants and more.

SCWD serves Dana Point and South Laguna as well as small portions of San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente.

According to Andrew Brunhart, SCWD general manager, the 5-million-gallon-per-day plant is planned to be completed by 2020 and will provide about 75 percent of SCWD’s demand.

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