Climate Change California

Published on January 20th, 2014 | by Amber Archangel


California Is Officially In A Drought: Is Desal An Answer?

January 20th, 2014 by  

Originally published on 1Sun4All.

California is officially in a drought state of emergency with the statement today from Governor Jerry Brown. For those people around the world and in this country who are experiencing this situation, I am sorry. This is personal for me because the area that I live in has been challenged with less rainfall for the past 3-4 years. Average annual rainfall, which occurs primarily between November and April, is usually 19.67 inches. So far this year we have accumulated a record low of 4.19 inches. The following is from the Office of the Governor for California and IDE Technologies:

With California facing water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today proclaimed a State of Emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for these drought conditions.

We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas. I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.

-Governor Brown

Largest Desalination Plant in Western Hemisphere Completes First Year of Construction


Screen view from the video

California Project on Track to Deliver up to 50 Million Gallons of Water per Day by Early 2016

Carlsbad, California city leaders, San Diego County Water Authority board officers, IDE Technologies, NRG Energy and Poseidon Water executives visited the Carlsbad Desalination Project in January 2014, to mark the first anniversary of construction on the Western Hemisphere’s largest seawater desalination plant, which is more than 25 percent complete.

An Introduction to the Carlsbad Desalination Plant Project

The $1 billion venture, launched in late 2012, is within budget and on schedule to start producing water in 2016. Besides the plant, the project includes a large-diameter pipeline in North County, along with upgrades to Water Authority facilities. It will account for about one-third of all the water generated in San Diego County, helping reduce reliance on imported water as part of the Water Authority’s multi-decade strategy to improve the reliability of the region’s water supply by diversifying its portfolio of water sources.

Thomas V. Wornham, Chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors:

The past two dry years in California, plus the prospect of a third dry year in 2014, underscore the importance and value of investing in long-term, drought-proof water sources such as the Carlsbad Desalination Project. We are pleased with the progress to date and eager for the plant to start producing water that will help support our region’s 3.1 million residents and its $188 billion economy.


 Screen view from the video

I’ve said that I thought that if we could ever competitively, at a cheap rate get fresh water from salt water, that it would be in the long range interest of humanity which would really dwarf any other scientific accomplishment, and I’m hopeful that we will intensify our efforts in that area. -President John F. Kennedy, 1961

Carlos Riva, CEO of Poseidon Water, the project developer:

We are thrilled to see this project progressing so quickly and efficiently after more than 10 years of hard work to bring it to fruition. We are well on our way to delivering enough high-quality drinking water to serve up to 112,000 households in San Diego County. We could not make this project possible without the help and support of the Water Authority, Kiewit Shea Desalination contractors, IDE Technologies, NRG Energy and the cities of San Marcos, Vista and Carlsbad. We sincerely appreciate the partnerships we have developed with each of these entities.

Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall thanked the Water Authority, Poseidon Water and the contractors for minimizing construction impacts and for communicating with business owners and residents.

Mayor Matt Hall:

A project of this size is a massive undertaking for our city that will benefit the entire region. It’s a testament to good planning and hard work that this world-class project is going so smoothly.

During the three-year construction process, the desalination project is supporting an estimated 2,500 jobs and infusing $350 million into the local economy. In the first year of construction, joint-venture contractor Kiewit Shea Desalination achieved a perfect safety rating, with no reports of injury or violations building what will be the nation’s most technologically advanced and energy-efficient seawater desalination plant.

My personal concern: The use of desalination plants can over-saturate the surrounding area’s oceans, bays and inlets with salt. We need to protect our seas and the creatures that live there. I’m certain that there is technology – or it is being developed – that can deliver clean, safe water while allowing the world’s oceans to remain livable for its inhabitants.

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About the Author

-- I am an artist, painter, writer, interior designer, graphic designer, and constant student of many studies. Living with respect for the environment close at hand, the food chain, natural remedies for healing the earth, people and animals is a life-long expression and commitment. As half of a home-building team, I helped design and build harmonious, sustainable and net-zero homes that incorporate clean air systems, passive and active solar energy as well as rainwater collection systems. Private aviation stirs a special appeal, I would love to fly in the solar airplane and install a wind turbine in my yard. I am a peace-loving, courageous soul, and I am passionate about contributing to the clean energy revolution. I formerly designed and managed a clean energy website,

  • AlgorithmicAnalyst

    Should build a canal for carrying water from Canada or elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest, (where there is a surplus of water), to California.

    Could arrange it so water is only sent south during times of excess rain, etc., and then use it to fill up California reservoirs ….

  • TCFlood

    Just out of curiosity:

    Is there any information on what they will be charging the consumer per acre foot?

    Is there any information on water intake and, especially, outlet siting and technology?

    Just for comparison, 50 Mgal/day is about 8% of what he city of LA uses and about twice what the Tampa Bay desal produces.

  • shecky vegas

    Y’know, a lot of these problems could be solved with a massive pandemic outbreak.
    GO H1V1 VIRUS!!!

  • Wayne Williamson

    This is excellent news. Every large city by the ocean should have one of these. I hope they don’t have as many issues bringing it online as ours in Tampa FL did.

  • StefanoR99

    Wouldnt it be cheaper to build a pipeline from say Washington state where it never stops raining and pump the excess to California? I’m sure Washinton state wouldnt mind selling something they get for free.

    We are fine with building pipelines from Canada to transport tar sands oil, why not something for water, a commodity thats essential for life?

  • Christopher Lewis

    Water Reuse. Drink what you flush. Membrane Bioreactors treat wastewater while producing pristine quality drinking water. They are less costly and more energy efficient compared with desal, and do not impact sea life. Just gotta get past the visual.

  • Todd

    Desalinate with all forms of renewable, solar, tidal, wind, etc., should be a no-brainer.

    • wattleberry

      Absolutely-and we can foresee this as a huge future beneficiary of the burgeoning renewable

  • A Real Libertarian

    Wouldn’t extracting the salt and selling it be a good idea?

    • eject

      Not really for the NaCl but desalination can be done in stages. The carbonates of the heavier elements come out first. Within this group you will odly also fin lithium although a light alkali metal. This carbonate fraction might be worth while. The chlorides are such huge quantities that they are worthless to begin with, there is so much easy to hav rock salt.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Adelaide is proudly the only Australian Capital city to completely self sufficient in salt. We used to supply 80% of Australia’s salt before those dastardly Western Australians realized they had even more sunshine than we do. But despite being a major salt producer, oddly enough they built the desalination plant to the south of Adelaide while the salt flats are in the north. It seems like a bit of a wasted opportunity, but now they apparently want to shut down salt production and build homes on the salt flats. Of course they’ll need to build a massive sea wall to keep out, you know, the sea. And we need to do this because apparently somehow Australia is running out of land so we have to make some more New Orleans style. I’m sure nothing could go wrong with that. After all, we’ve already lined up a Dutchman with broad fingers to patrol the area.

  • Justin Barkewich

    With radiant water from Japan reaching the west coast….I don’t think its a very good idea right now.

    • newpapyrus

      All seawater is naturally radioactive. And the radioactive material that is poured into the the oceans from the world’s rivers easily dwarfs the tiny amount of radiation coming from Fukushima.

      In fact, seawater is probably going to be the major source of uranium fuel for nuclear reactors in the future.


      • Ronald Brakels

        Uranium will never be commercially extracted from sea water. Haven’t you heard the South Australian’s lament? “Uranium, uranium everywhere, and not a drop of increased demand to sell her by!”

    • Steve Grinwis

      The ocean is really large. However big you think it is, its bigger than that.

      Even the fish in the water near Fukushima are safe to eat at this point.

    • Ross

      While there’s no denying Fukushima was a disaster the radioactivity on the west coast comes from local granite rocks.

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