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Superintendent Statement: Final Notice for A New Category of Special Use Permits Related to the Operation of Desalination Facilities in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Superintendent Statement
September 7th, 2017


Today, in response to local needs for adequate water supplies to support communities and businesses along the California coast, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) announced a new category of special use permits that will allow desalination facilities to operate in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) under certain conditions.  

The new category will allow the continued presence of a pipeline to transport seawater to or from a desalination facility.  It also will allow NOAA to collect administrative fees for these type of activities in the sanctuary.

On January 13, 2017, NOAA published an initial proposal to apply two proposed special use permits category across the National Marine Sanctuary System. Review of the public comments submitted and regionally-based scientific studies revealed that the majority of desalination activity within the system occurs in Monterey Bay. With that in mind, ONMS decreased the original scope to establish only one new special use permit category that will apply only to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

To streamline the permitting process, the new special use permit category will be used in conjunction with other permit authorities to authorize other state and federal permits as necessary for the construction of desalination facilities. Specific details regarding the method to assess fees associated with the new category are outlined in the federal register notice published today.

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

Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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