3implementation of other projects. (
)Similarly, while Cal-Am’sprojectapplicationprojects that 97 percentof the pumped water would be seawater, italsoacknowledges the need for a test well and further groundwater modeling.(SeeLandWatch Opening Brief, p.4 (citing Cal-Am Application, Appendix H, p. 10 andDirect Testimony of Richard C. Svindland, April 23, 2012, p. 10:8-11).)Cal-Amrecognizes that the modeling work done in the predecessorEIR for the now-defunctRegionalDesalination Projectincludes data limitations and potential errors. Theseerrorswill requirefurther refinement and improvementin the groundwater analysis,as well as adaptationof the modelingCal-Am’s distinctstand-alone project.(
)Unless and until this additional modeling workis done andtest wells areconstructed and used in the project assessment, the project’s need for groundwaterremains fundamentally unknown,andmay wellexceed the preliminary estimate reliedupon in the application. As LandWatch discussed in its openingbrief (page 4),available data suggest thatthe percent of freshwater taken up by the project’sintake wellsmay well increase beyond the applicant’s initial projection.Notably, theMontereyCounty Superior Court found the predecessor project’s EIR deficient inpartbecause it“assumes that groundwater rights will be perfected in the future andthat such rights do not need to be addressed in an EIR.”
Here, given the immensepotential for disputes over groundwater to delay or derail timely implementationof the applicant’s water supply project, the Commission’s duty to examine this issue alsocannot be consigned to a later CEQA phase of project review.Despitedisagreeing onotherissues,numerousparties to this proceeding recognizethat fundamental uncertainties remain as to theproject’s need for
The Superior Court’s Statement of Intended Decision in
Ag Land Trust vs. Marina Coast Water District
(Monterey Superior Court Case No. M105019, Dec. 19,2011, p. 30) is appended as Exhibit A to the Opening Brief of WaterPlus Regarding Groundwater Rights and Public Ownership, filed on July 11, 2012.