Carlsbad Desalination Facility Set to Open Near San Diego

Last week, officials gathered near San Diego, Calif., to officially dedicate what will be largest desalination plant in the United States. The $1 billion plant is located in Carlsbad, approximately 35 miles north of downtown along the Interstate 5 corridor.

Three years after construction began, the Claude ?Bud? Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant will produce 50 million gallons of potable water daily and pump it 10 miles to San Marcos to the?San Diego County Water Authority.

The San Diego County Water Authority is expected to pay $2,014 to $2,256 per acre-ft of water to Poseidon ? the project developer ? during its 30-year deal. The desalinated water is expected to supply San Diego County with 7 percent of its water supply. Known generally as the Carlsbad Desalination Project, the facility was renamed Monday in honor of former Carlsbad mayor Claude ?Bud? Lewis.

Because of the high cost of desalination, San Diego County customers will likely see an increase in their water bills.

While desalination presents a seemingly viable solution to communities affected by drought or water shortages, the process is often opposed and considered risky due to the lengthy regulatory process the projects command, as well as the intense energy use of the plants once they are operational.
The Carlsbad facility in San Diego, for example, is 14 years in the making. The first steps toward construction were taken in 2001.

Not everyone supports the plant and others planned for areas like?Camp Pendleton?and?Huntington Beach.

The process to produce drinking water takes approximately 20 minutes from beginning to end, according to the project’s website.?First, the saltwater is pretreated to remove algae and other organic materials. Then the water moves through microfiltration to remove microscopic impurities.

To remove the salt from the seawater, the plant will strain the water through a reverse osmosis process. Under intense pressure the water is moved through semi-permeable membranes. Finally, some minerals are returned to the water that?s treated with chlorine.

For more on the Carlsbad desalination project, visit the project?s website at:

For details on construction and water supply, visit the project?s page on Poseidon?s website:

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