Monterey area looks to sea for drinking water

By the end of 2014, most people on the Monterey Peninsula are likely to fill their glasses with water siphoned from the ocean and stripped of salt.

If switching from a predominantly freshwater-fed system to a sea-fed system within four years seems aggressive – well, it is. But water utilities in the area don’t have much choice.

In the wake of a November “cease and desist” order by state regulators requiring Monterey County’s main water purveyor to slash its diversions from the Carmel River 70 percent by 2016, an ambitious regional desalination project has emerged as the best – and arguably only – way to slake the thirst of about 100,000 customers on the peninsula.

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