The U.S. imports vehicles, equipment, fresh produce and other
goods from Mexico. That list may soon include water too, now
that a San Diego County water district is looking south for
help to diversify its supply.
On a a picturesque summer afternoon, West Basin Municipal Water
District officials chose to woo regulators with a stroll by the
beach in El Segundo, stopping to admire an unadulterated strip
of California coastline. … A few hours later,
environmental advocates held a town hall two miles away in
Poseidon Water hopes to help quench Orange County’s thirst, but
first the company’s proposed desalination
project must slake a thirst of its own. That’s why
Poseidon has long eyed a coastal power plant that has, for more
than a half-century, sucked up seawater to cool its massive
A protracted conflict over whether and how to protect fish from
dying at desalination plants is clouding prospects for what
would be California’s second large plant of this type – and for
the future of desalination along the entire
California coastline. For years, a proposed Poseidon
Resources desalination plant in Huntington Beach in Orange
County has been kept in limbo.
A new ruling issued by a state Public Utilities Commission
member has indicated the full commission likely wouldn’t
consider approval of California American Water’s Monterey
Peninsula desalination project until March 2018, four months
after company officials had hoped, and suggested that
consideration could be delayed even further.
Backers of a new Monterey Bay desalination project think they
have found a fix for the environmental problems posed by most
seawater intakes: Instead of drawing seawater from the beach,
they plan to draw from the one of the world’s deepest marine
In what local water activist Ron Weitzman promises is a
precursor to further litigation, the Water Ratepayers
Association of the Monterey Peninsula has filed suit against
the state Coastal Commission and Monterey County seeking to
halt California American Water’s slant test well program for
the proposed desalination plant project.
Carlsbad’s new desalination plant went through years of
regulatory review and faced 14 legal challenges from
environmental groups before it opened last year. Six months
after opening, it’s still facing regulatory hurdles, including
one that’ll make the water it produces more expensive.
A desalination plant proposed near San Juan Creek could produce
as much as 15 million gallons of drinking water daily and
create a reliable source for South County-area reserves in the
wake of an earthquake or drought, officials said. … On
Thursday, district officials will hold a community meeting to
discuss the project and its environmental report.
This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks with
energy reporter from The Desert Sun, Sammy Roth. He recently
researched a piece about efforts to make desalination more
commonplace in California.
Citing potentially higher costs that would be passed on to
customers, Orange County’s largest provider of water to homes
and businesses is intensifying its opposition to a key
supplier’s plan to buy desalinated water from a proposed $1
billion Huntington Beach plant.
In response to the recently launched Poseidon desalination
plant in Carlsbad, state officials have agreed to dramatically
ease water conservation goals in San Diego for almost all
residential water users. The adjustments will nearly cut in
half required water savings throughout the region, the San
Diego County Water Authority announced Thursday.
California American Water’s latest Monterey Peninsula water
supply project cost estimates show a larger desalination plant
would cost the same as previous estimates, but a smaller desal
plant would be more expensive. That would potentially squeeze
the cost of a supplemental recycled water project unless it
qualifies for grants and low-cost financing.
Poseidon Water’s desalination plant in Carlsbad is poised to
begin regular operations within days — decades after water
officials first considered harvesting drinking water from the
sea and 14 years after they formally took the first steps
toward its construction. The opening, to be celebrated with an
anticipatory ceremony Monday, will be a milestone for the
company, for arid San Diego County and for all of California.
The $1-billion desalination plant coming online next month in
Carlsbad will fit right in with years of careful planning and
investment in water supply in San Diego County. It will also
worsen a peculiar San Diego problem amid a multiyear drought:
an oversupply of water.
This 2-day, 1-night tour in the San Diego County included a
private tour of the new Carlsbad ocean desalination plant,
the largest such facility in the Western hemisphere and designed
to increase the San Diego area’s water supply reliability.
On a 15-year project, it seems silly to complain about a
month’s delay. Still, for more than a year now, people
have been told about a November opening of the $1 billion
Poseidon desalination plant in Carlsbad.
A groundwater replenishment project aimed at providing the
Monterey Peninsula with potable recycled water continued to
forge ahead of California American Water’s desalination project
during a state Public Utilities Commission hearing Monday.
California American Water is expected to resume pumping from
its stalled Monterey Peninsula desalination project test slant
well operation by early November after the Coastal Commission
gave its unanimous approval Tuesday.
Along a picture-postcard stretch of coast in Carlsbad near San
Diego, fishermen cast their lines into an emerald seawater
lagoon. In a few short weeks, the lagoon will also be feeding a
steady supply of water into what will be the largest operating
desalination facility in North America.
A more thorough, joint environmental review of the oft-delayed
Monterey Peninsula desalination project by the Monterey Bay
National Marine Sanctuary and the state Public Utilities
Commission will likely take about a year to draft and finalize,
according to representatives of both agencies.
The fate of a proposed water desalination plant in Huntington
Beach remains uncertain after a panel of experts has concluded
that it would be too expensive to build it using intake pipes
under the sea floor. That was the approach favored by the
California Coastal Commission, whose approval is needed to
Facing another delay on California American Water’s
desalination project, the Monterey Peninsula regional water
authority weighed in this week on the major reasons for the
delay — the apparent Geoscience conflicts of interest and the
stalled test well operation.
California American Water officials have acknowledged using
patented slant well technology by Geoscience president Dennis
Williams in the Monterey Peninsula desalination project after
previously denying it.
A water conservation group argued in court this week that the
San Diego County Water Authority needs to do more to account
for the potential environmental effects of its upcoming
projects, particularly the water desalination plant scheduled
to open in Carlsbad.
Santa Barbara City Council members on Tuesday unanimously
approved spending $55 million to reactivate a mothballed
desalination plant that could provide the city with
nearly a third of its drinking water.
Healdsburg’s Aaron Mandell wants to build a $30 million
desalination plant in the San Joaquin Valley that would use the
warmth of the sun to distill former irrigation water and reuse
it on thirsty farms. … “I think everybody is trying to
stretch the supplies every way they can,” said Jennifer Bowles,
executive director of the nonprofit Water Education Foundation
State Public Utilities Commission judge Gary Weatherford has
ordered California American Water and contractor Geoscience
Support Services president Dennis Williams to disclose details
of their agreements involving the Monterey Peninsula Water
In order to sort out an apparent conflict of interest and its
fallout, the state Public Utilities Commission on Thursday
extended the public review period for California American
Water’s latest desalination project’s draft environmental
impact report by nearly three months.
California American Water and a group of experts will be asked
to prove regional agricultural irrigation pumping caused most,
if not all, of the decrease in north Marina groundwater levels
that halted pumping of the Monterey Peninsula desalination
project’s test slant well last month.
A glistening spectacle on the west Fresno County prairie could
be a rock star in California’s next drought. It’s a mirrored
solar array longer than a football field, collecting heat to
boil salt and other impurities out of irrigation drainage. …
The technology is among Valley water stories that The Bee will
tell this month in a weekly series.
For the expected 1,500-plus people attending the International
Desalination Assn. World Congress, the highlight will be a
Sept. 4 tour of the $1-billion desalination plant under
construction in Carlsbad.
As environmental review for its Monterey Peninsula desalination
project approaches a critical stage, California American Water
is already moving ahead with hiring contractors for key aspects
of the project.
With drought impacts in full effect, some water agencies are
looking at desalination as way to improve water supplies. Now
the state Water Resources Control Board has passed an amendment
to its codes requiring new or expanded seawater desalination
plants to use the best available technology to protect all
forms of marine life.
For the second time in less than a month, Monterey Peninsula
business leaders are seeking a legal and technical analysis of
California American Water’s desalination project in an effort
to sniff out any issues that could potentially further delay or
derail the proposal.
Could the technology used in Israel that successfully turned
the country’s water shortage into a surplus be implemented in
California to ease the state’s drought? KQED Public Media
reporter Daniel Potter joins Alison Stewart via Skype from San
Francisco to discuss.
For nearly 25 years, the desal plant has sat unused. That’s
about to change. As nearby beachgoers swam, sailed and paddle
boarded on an overcast morning last week, Santa Barbara
officials showed off those tanks and pumps, describing their
plan to turn seawater into drinking water.
Desalination promises a world with no limits. … That promise
is driving the $1 billion desalination plant that Poseidon
Water is set to open in Carlsbad this November. And it has
brought Poseidon within one permit of building a plant in
As an unprecedented drought tightens its grip on California,
completion is near for the $1 billion Carlsbad Desalination
Project that is expected to supply 7 to 10 percent of San Diego
County’s drinking water by the end of this year.
Every time drought strikes California, the people of this state
cannot help noticing the substantial reservoir of untapped
water lapping at their shores — 187 quintillion gallons of it,
more or less, shimmering so invitingly in the sun.
A mothballed desalination plant sits like a time capsule near
Santa Barbara’s main tourist beach, a relic of California’s
last drought to end all droughts. … The dilemma is the
focus of the latest installment of this newspaper’s ongoing
series “A State of Drought.”
California American Water submitted a draft petition to the
state water board last month aimed at delaying the deadline for
reducing its river water pumping by four years from the end of
2016 to 2020. It promised to meet a series of milestones
including completion of a desalination plant capable of
providing a replacement water source for the Peninsula by the
Anyone who has stepped outside in the past year has undoubtedly
seen the effects of our state’s historic drought conditions.
… Southern California communities have rallied behind
desalinated ocean water as a reliable, safe and environmentally
friendly solution to long-term water shortages.
A state Public Utilities Commission judge will allow public
debate over the proposed regional desalination project
settlement agreement between California American Water and
Monterey County later this month, delaying the commission’s
scheduled review on Thursday.
After resisting disclosure, Monterey Peninsula Regional Water
Authority president Jason Burnett released a draft proposal
late Tuesday aimed at delaying a state-ordered cutback in
pumping from the Carmel River by four years.
Former Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook has filed a complaint
with the state’s political watchdog, alleging that a water
district board member has a conflict of interest and should not
be allowed to vote on a proposed desalination plant on the
A split Marina Coast Water District board decided to resume its
previous quest for a desalination plant, with a goal of
providing a new potable water supply within two years to new
development in Fort Ord, including Monterey Downs.
The Orange County Water District, which manages the groundwater
basin in north and central county, gave a much-needed boost
this week to a proposed desalination plant in Huntington Beach
by agreeing to purchase its water.
California’s drought declaration has triggered only local
limits such as restrictions on washing cars or watering lawns
for most communities, but one Pacific Coast tourist town has
seized it as an opportunity to build a long-desired
The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking proposals within two
funding opportunity announcements to improve water treatment
technologies aimed at increasing water management flexibility
through new usable water supplies in the United States. The
first is for research, laboratory studies and the second is for
pilot projects. Reclamation will make a total of up to $1.4
million available for the funding opportunities.
This week, water leaders from Australia are meeting our
Californian counterparts in West Sacramento to discuss the
lessons from our long drought. … We applied a number of
techniques including conservation, water trading, stormwater
collection and on-site gray water reuse, but one of our more
tangible successes has been a $10 billion seawater desalination
program with the construction of six major plants in all five
mainland state capitals.
Testimony concluded on Friday in the regional desalination
project trial in San Francisco Superior Court, with a
preliminary ruling not expected until February. … In a
separate suit, Cal Am is seeking to relocate a Sacramento
County Superior Court challenge filed by Marina Coast seeking
to halt the company’s slant test well project for its current
desal proposal, asking a judge to move the case to Monterey
Opening arguments in the case pitting three former regional
partners — the Monterey County Water Resources Agency,
California American Water and the Marina Coast Water District —
are set for Tuesday before Judge Curtis Karnow in San Francisco
At the State Building and Construction Trades Council, we agree
with the San Diego County Water Authority – the Carlsbad
desalination plant can’t come online fast enough. There is no
denying that California is in desperate need of a reliable,
drought-proof water supply.
Officials with the Cambria Community Services District plan to
flip the switch Nov. 15 on a $9 million desalination plant that
will provide the community with a desperately needed new supply
of drinking water.
The Coastal Commission will consider California American
Water’s proposed slant test well project at its meeting
Wednesday, and it’s hard to imagine that the commission will go
against its own staff recommendation, which is to allow Cal Am
California American Water has reached a deal with Cemex to
allow drilling of slant test wells, and possibly production
wells, for its proposed Monterey Peninsula desalination project
at the north Marina sand mining plant.
Coastal Commission staff has recommended upholding California
American Water’s appeal of its desalination slant test well
project with conditions, arguing Marina city officials failed
to provide any support for denying the project permit.
Along this patch of the Pacific Ocean, welders and pipefitters
nearly outnumber the surfers and sunbathers. … They are
building the Carlsbad Desalination Project, which will convert
as much as 56 million gallons of seawater each day into
drinking water for San Diego County residents.
Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink. That line is
all that remains in my brain from an early exposure to “The
Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” the endless poem that has been
cruelly inflicted upon generations of American schoolchildren.
Even ideas are being conserved as Santa Cruz continues its hunt
for alternative water supply solutions. … The so-called
ideas convention was hosted by the city’s 14-member Water
Supply Advisory Committee.
California’s drought has created mandated water conservation
efforts, but some communities in Southern California, from
Huntington Beach to Los Angeles, are doing something extra:
trying to become water independent.
San Diego’s water supplies could be seriously tested if a
punishing four-year drought extends through another winter. But
there is relief on the horizon. It’s not coming from rain
clouds; relief is coming from the West Coast’s first seawater
desalination plant in Carlsbad.
We talked the other day about the most exciting project now
going on in California, public or private. That would be
Poseiden Water’s Carlsbad desalination plant north of San
Diego, scheduled to begin operating next year.
This issue examines desalination and the role it could play in
the future of water supply. In addition to an explanation of the
basics of the technology, the article looks at costs,
environmental impacts and groundwater application. Pilot
desalination projects are featured, including a much-touted
Carlsbad, Calif., facility that promises to substantially boost
that region’s water supply.
This printed issue of Western Water looks at the energy
requirements associated with water use and the means by which
state and local agencies are working to increase their knowledge
and improve the management of both resources.
This printed issue of Western Water features a
roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources
consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development
with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor
to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial
page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of
research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of
This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership
with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an
excellent overview of climate change and how it is already
affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists
anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and
precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are
underway to plan and adapt to climate.
Salt. In a small amount, it’s a gift from nature. But any doctor
will tell you, if you take in too much salt, you’ll start to have
health problems. The same negative effect is happening to land in
the Central Valley. The problem scientists call “salinity” poses
a growing threat to our food supply, our drinking water quality
and our way of life. The problem of salt buildup and potential –
but costly – solutions are highlighted in this 2008 public
television documentary narrated by comedian Paul Rodriguez.
A 20-minute version of the 2008 public television documentary
Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley. This
DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking
engagements to help the public understand the complex issues
surrounding the problem of salt build up in the Central Valley
potential – but costly – solutions. Narrated by comedian Paul
20-minute DVD that explains the problem with polluted stormwater,
and steps that can be taken to help prevent such pollution and
turn what is often viewed as a “nuisance” into a water resource
through various activities.
Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the
faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close
to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their
water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and
testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to
households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from,
how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality
are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress
A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water:
Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at
community forums and speaking engagements to help the public
understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems
and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to
households throughout the state.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water
Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication
that provides background information on the principles of IRWM,
its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water
As the state’s population continues to grow and traditional water
supplies grow tighter, there is increased interest in reusing
treated wastewater for a variety of activities, including
irrigation of crops, parks and golf courses, groundwater recharge
and industrial uses.
The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta always has been at the mercy of
river flows and brackish tides.
Before human intervention, salty ocean water from the San
Francisco Bay flooded the vast Delta marshes during dry summers
when mountain runoff ebbed. Then, during winter, heavy runoff
from the mountains repelled sea water intrusion.
Recurrent droughts and uncertainties about future water supplies
have led several California communities to look to treat salty
water for supplemental supplies through a process known as
Desalination removes salt and other dissolved minerals from water
and is one method to reclaim water for other uses. This can occur
with ocean water along the coast and in the interior at spots
that draw from ancient salt water deep under the surface or where
groundwater has been tainted
by too much salt.
It seems not a matter of if but when seawater desalination will
fulfill the promise of providing parts of California with a
reliable, drought-proof source of water. With a continuing
drought and uncertain water deliveries, the state is in the grip
of a full-on water crisis, and there are many people who see
desalination as a way to provide some relief to areas struggling
to maintain an adequate water supply.
“Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” – Samuel
For time immemorial, the seas of the Earth have been seen as an
enticing but unreachable source of fresh water. Separating the
salt from ocean water was always a cost prohibitive process,
primarily reserved to wealthy Middle Eastern nations and
small-scale operations such as ocean-bound vessels and small
islands. Otherwise, through the evolution of modern civilization,
man has depended upon lakes, rivers and groundwater – a supply
that comprises less than 3 percent of the planet’s total water.