Drought-Stricken California Looks At Desalination For More Water

The Carlsbad desalination conveyance pipeline is a 10-mile, 54-inch water delivery pipeline that will travel eastward from the seawater desalination plant through Carlsbad, Vista and San Marcos to the San Diego County Water Authority’s Second Aqueduct connection facility in San Marcos. (carlsbaddesal.com)

The Proposition 1 water bond passed by California voters last November could give water-related programs a big funding boost, according to comstocksmag.com.  The $7.5 billion package promises to improve water supplies, increase storage capacities, protect and restore watersheds, and develop desalination infrastructure.

As California heads into its fourth year of drought, more communities are looking to tap into desalination, which removes salt from ocean water to make it drinkable.  Proponents see the ocean as a “drought-proof water supply.”  However, according to Here & Now, desalination is expensive and critics say it’s harmful to marine life.

Currently, the San Diego County Water Authority is partnering with Poseidon Water on the Carlsbad Desalination Project in Carlsbad, California.

When the project is completed this fall, it will provide more than 50 million gallons of drinking water a day to 112,000 homes in San Diego County and will be the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere.

According to the San Diego County Water Authority, Poseidon Water is developing the plant and pipeline with Kiewit Shea Desalination. The project will deliver drought-proof, highly reliable water that will become a core, day-to-day resource for the region. It is projected to meet 7 percent of San Diego County’s demand in 2020.

In addition, the reverse-osmosis plant will make the region’s water supplies more reliable by reducing dependence on imported water from the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.  That district is vulnerable to droughts, natural disasters and regulatory restrictions.

As California battles the long, serious drought and considers spending $7 billion to $9 billion on producing, transporting, and storing fresh water, a San Francisco-based, independent water producer says it has been testing a similar potential solution.

WaterFX is a Bay Area water producer that has been converting irrigation runoff to pure water at its solar thermal desalination plant as part of a project for the Panoche Water and Drainage District.

According the San Francisco Chronicle, it’s the only solar-based desalination plant in the country. It currently produces 14,000 gallons per day, but its owners say that amount could grow to 2 million in the near future.

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