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Water Supply Debate Extends to Former Fort Ord

By Marissa Schwartz, Reporter, MarissaSchwartz@kionrightnow.com
Published On: Feb 13 2014 11:58:10 PM CST
Water Supply Debate Extends to Former Fort Ord
MARINA, Calif. -

Protecting every last drop of water and making sure there's enough to keep local economy flowing.  That's what the Fort Ord Reuse Authority said it's tasked with, as it works to approve or deny future projects.  We went to find out why access to water is a sticking point for the authority and environmental groups.

Stalling and wasting time -- that's what Jerry Edelen said about the effort to keep development from happening on the former Fort Ord by some environmental groups.  As chair of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority, he said access to water is a "non issue" because the Army allocated enough water for future development.  Edelen said a one-third of the water has been used so far and more is promised.

"We will require another 2,000 plus acre feet for the implementation.  The Marina Coast Water District is tasked to provide that water for which we will pay for," Edelen said.

But for Michael Salerno, of Keep Fort Ord Wild, the promise of more water down the line isn't enough to make him feel comfortable with future projects, like home development or shopping centers.  His group is asking the authority to recognize there's a stark difference between Monterey County's plan for development on its portion of Fort Ord versus the actual amount of water available.

"To acknowledge that there's not a sustainable water supply for Fort Ord and that the water supply is actually inherently linked to the water supply in the Salinas Valley," Salerno said.

Salerno said when you tap into the Salinas Valley supply you start to take water away from what's needed to keep the agricultural fields afloat.

"If you over commit water to Fort Ord development, you're directly taking water away from Salinas Valley agriculture and you're pumping, increasing pumping close to the ocean will only make the seawater intrusion problem worse," Salerno said.

The authority said it shares those concerns and will take on one project at a time.

"That's where it's gonna be, we'll have to take a look and see what that project's gonna use versus other projects that Monterey County wants to implement," Edelen said. 

The authority said within the next few months it plans to ask Marina Coast Water District for a concrete plan and timeline for the extra water it's committed to supplying.