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Superintendent Statement: Proposed Special Use Permit Catagories for Desalination

Superintendent Statement
January 12th, 2017


Today, in response to community-level needs for adequate water supplies, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries published a federal register notice and request for public comment (direct link to comment) on two new categories of special use permits that would allow desalination facilities to operate in national marine sanctuaries.

The proposed categories would allow the placement of a pipeline on the seafloor to transport seawater to or from a desalination facility; and the use of sediment in the sanctuary to filter seawater for desalination.

In addition, NOAA plans to collect fees for special use permits and is proposing a methodology to determine the fair market value associated with each of the new categories of activities.

If approved, the proposed special use permit categories would be used in conjunction with other permit authorities to authorize other state and federal permits as necessary for the construction of desalination facilities. While ONMS is currently reviewing proposals for the construction of desalination plants in California, the special use permits proposed in the notice could be applied across the National Marine Sanctuary System.

The public comment period will be open until February 13, and the new permit categories would only be approved after issuance of a final notice and response to comments.

For questions regarding proposed desalination special use permits, please contact MBNMS at

URL:    Reviewed: November 17, 2017
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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