With the almost unlimited factors that can affect the cost of ocean water desalination West Basin has completed several cost estimates and impacts to rate payers. The West Basin board first evaluated ocean water desalination and compared the cost to imported water sources through Metropolitan Water District and discovered ocean water desalination was 30x more expensive that imported water. Over the years advancements in technology, energy recovery, optimization and increasing imported water rates have helped ocean water desalination become a more feasible water supply option.
In addition to comparing the cost of ocean water desalination over the years, comparing the cost of ocean water desalination to other water supply options has been performed. West Basin has operated a recycled treatment plant and program since 1990 and has compared the costs of ocean water desalination to the different grades of recycled water produced. On average, a 20MGD ocean water desalination facility would cost approximately $1,800/Acre-foot in comparison to an average of the five types of recycled water qualities West Basin produces at approximately $1,500/Acre-foot. If a larger plant is built, economies of scale provides a benefit and the total project cost drop so about $1,600/Acre-foot. West Basin has estimated the average increase on a monthly water bill to introduce a 20MGD desalination facility would be approximately $3.00/month, or the price of a Starbucks coffee.