California American Water, the nation’s largest publicly traded water and wastewater company, plans to build the plant to pump ocean water, desalinate it and provide drinking water to 100,000 people on the Monterey Peninsula. The largely Latino, agricultural community of Castroville would also receive the water at a discount. 

The plant would produce about 4.8 million gallons of water per day when it begins operating, with the possibility of increasing production later. California American Water hopes to have it operating by the end of 2027. The water company is seeking to bolster local supplies after state regulators ordered it to stop its decades-old practice of unlawfully diverting more than its share from the Carmel River.  

Today, nine years after the project was first proposed, commissioners approved the plant along with a long list of conditions aimed at limiting the harm to dunes and wetlands, groundwater stores and local communities. The company must still obtain an array of local, state and federal permits, and resolve a court battle over groundwater rights before construction could begin.