Project Description: Subtidal Site Characterization for a Proposed Desalination Facility on Cannery Row

Summary

Ocean View Plaza is a proposed development that would place condominiums, retail spaces, and parking on an unused waterfront lot on Cannery Row in Monterey, CA. Because of concerns over limited water availability, the developer’s plans include a small desalination facility, which would extract 25,000 gallons of fresh water daily from seawater. A brine solution, roughly twice the salinity of seawater, would be the byproduct and would be returned to the ocean. To detect and monitor any environmental changes that might occur as a result of the pipeline installation and/or the steady release of brine into the Sanctuary, the Sanctuary staff needed baseline data describing the condition of the proposed pipeline areas before the desal plant is built. The MSCI 437 (Ocean Instrumentation Projects) class planned to assist the Sanctuary by conducting a baseline subtidal site characterization of the expected locations where the pipes would be installed and where they would intake seawater and release the brine.

Student Involvement

Nine undergraduate students enrolled in MSCI 437 (Ocean Instrumentation Projects) used their prerequisite electronics and robotics skills to improve instrumentation for this subtidal data collection project. Five of those students collected, analyzed, and presented the data as part of their senior “group capstone” project.

Broader Significance

Many coastal communities in arid or drought-prone regions around the world are considering, adopting, or already using desalination plants to supplement limited fresh water supplies. Prior studies have shown that in many cases these plants have significant adverse impacts on the adjacent marine environments, but those impacts may be minimized or eliminated through appropriate plant design. This project positions the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to detect and measure any impacts that may occur due to installation and/or operation of the proposed Ocean View Plaza desal facility and thereby contribute to our understanding of potential desal impacts and how best to minimize them.

IfAME PI

Dr. Steve Moore

Financial Support

CSUMB UROC; Blue Robotics

Field Support

CSUMB Small Boats Program, CSUMB Science Diving Program

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