Why Consider Desalination

Ocean Water Desalination Benefits

  • Local water reliability in the case of an earthquake or other event in which fragile imported water supplies are not available.
  • Ocean Water Desalination is a drought proof water supply for an arid and dry region.
  • The water quality provided by an ocean water desalination plant will meet and exceed all water quality regulations.
  • By implementing ocean water desalination West Basin will be taking less water from other water sources.
  • A full scale project will provide local control of the water without the threat of an allocation or being cut off from the supply as has happened with imported water supply sources.
  • Having a diverse water supply portfolio is necessary for planning in the case of future water uncertainties, much like having a diverse stock portfolio.
  • West Basin is pursuing water recycling and investing in researching direct potable reuse, however the public does not have the ability to drink this water yet.
  • In the case of an emergency the ocean water desalination facility will still operate and be able to provide fresh drinking water to the area.
  • As a coastal agency, West Basin has an obligation to evaluate ocean water desalination as a potential water supply while a lot of other agencies do not have that ability.
  • Phone surveys and polling efforts have shown 70-85% of people polled support ocean water desalination.

SUPPORT

OPPOSITION

  • We share the environmental concerns about ocean water desalination and we have approached protecting the ocean in a scientific manner. As a result, we are very confident we can protect the ocean.
  • In fact, West Basin has done extensive scientific research to ensure the protection of the ocean. We will be using ocean protection technologies – either sub-ocean intake system or wedge wire screens to protect 100% of adult, juvenile and most if not all of the mature larvae. Any remaining impacts will be mitigated per State regulations.
  • Adult and juvenile fish and mature larvae are the future of the ocean and they will be protected. West Basin has used and successfully studied 1 mm wedge wire screens in the ocean in Santa Monica Bay, which is the first of its kind, and are currently studying sub ocean floor withdrawal.
  • A screened ocean intake will damage the marine environment and destroy the ecosystem

SUPPORT

OPPOSITION

  • West Basin will evaluate the mixing the desalination brine with existing waste water treatment plant outfalls per the California State Ocean Plan. If mixing with another outfall is not feasible West Basin has extensively evaluated brine diffusers as a viable and environmentally sustainable alternative.
  • The brine diffusers are scientifically designed to protect 100% of adult fish, juvenile fish and mature larvae, including benthic species that live at the bottom of the ocean and cannot move. The diffusers will rapidly mix the brine water with ocean water and within a few meters away from the diffuser port ambient salinity is reached. This has been studied extensively in the Brine Diffuser Entrainment Study and the Program Master Plan.
  • The discharge will create a toxic brine plume in the ocean and kill all marine life

SUPPORT

OPPOSITION

  • We understand ocean water desalination is energy-intensive.But keep in mind, by expanding our recycling and conservation programs, and adding about 10% of our future supplies from desal (20 MGD) we will actually lower our carbon footprint over existing energy use to import water from Northern California.
  • Additionally, West Basin is testing several energy-saving devices, including energy recovery devices which reuse 42% of the reverse osmosis pressure as well as variable speed pumps and optimizing our operations to save energy.
  • We will be looking for less expensive power with a goal of utilizing renewable energy sources.
  • West Basin has a history of using renewables, about 10% of the power for our recycling plant comes from solar power, our Water Reliability program, of which desal will play a part, is already using green offset energy.
  • The energy required for an ocean water desalination facility is high and contributes to greenhouse gasses

SUPPORT

OPPOSITION

  • The proposed 20MGD desal facility will cost approximately $380 million to construct. This cost will result in approximately a $3.00 increase on your monthly water bill, less than two Starbucks drinks or a gallon of gas. The ultimate cost on your monthly water bill would depend upon how many gallons of water your family uses each month.
  • If there are partnerships and grants, the desal plant cost would be significantly less – possibly nearly the cost of current water sources. Reliable water, such as desal and recycling, have more value than water that may not be available in the future.
  • The cost of the project will be very expensive and the rate payers will burden the entire cost without input

SUPPORT

OPPOSITION

  • Having a full scale DPR (direct potable reuse) project is still several years away.
  • Before DPR is ready to be served for drinking water several things need to occur:
    • change State legislation
    • do more research on a multiple barrier system
    • conduct real-time water quality monitoring
    • have an engineered buffer
    • gain public understanding and acceptance of the project.
  • Although we are working diligently on all of these barriers to DPR, it will take many years to be successful. West Basin has been, and will continue to fund, support, and participate in DPR studies with the State, regulatory agencies and research entities.
  • Direct Potable reuse should be the first choice for dirnking water before ocean water desalination

SUPPORT

OPPOSITION

  • West Basin is planning to continue to expand our recycling and conservation programs. For recycling, we plan to expand from about 40 million gallons a day of recycled water to 70 million gallons a day and we are planning to double our conservation efforts from 3 to 6 billion gallons by the year 2020. West Basin plans to have most of our local water supplies come from recycling and conservation, 22% and 16% respectively, and desal will be about 10%.
  • However, even with these other efforts in place, desal is needed because it is the only drinkable supply of these three.
  • All other options should be exhausted before ocean water desalination is implemented

SUPPORT

OPPOSITION

  • Droughts affect countries around the world and these countries are also looking to desal as a solution. In fact, there are already 5,863 SWRO (Sea Water Reverse Osmosis) plants around the world.
  • West Basin sees increasing water scarcity in the future. Several factors listed below will impact and reduce future water resources that we depend upon today.
    • Climate change
    • higher temperatures
    • population growth
    • need to replace aging infrastructure
    • need to return water to the environment
    • droughts
    • earthquakes
    All of these factors point to the future need for new, local and drought-proof and reliable water supplies. We are also helping Metropolitan Water District (MWD) by developing new local supplies in the face of these challenges.
  • The California Department of Water Resources projects that 500,000 AF per year of ocean water desalination capacity will be required to be produced over the next 20 years. MWD’s Integrated Water Resources Plan identifies a need for 150,000 acre feet a year of desal water by the year 2020. West Basin’s desal effort represents a part of that larger effort. Water facilities take many years to develop, obtain approvals and construct facilities. This means new facilities must be pursued in time to meet future needs in order to be operational by the time the water is needed.
  • West Basin has also completed a study on our local future water needs. It points to a dry weather scenario shortfall of 18,000 AFY by 2035. Keep in mind, reliable water is not just about expanding future supplies; it is about controlling the water locally, diversifying West Basin’s water portfolio, planning for possible challenges to imported water and helping MWD with future demands. West Basin will assist in the region becoming less dependent upon water taken from rivers and streams in Northern California or the threatened Colorado River system.
  • This drought is becoming “the new baseline” and West Basin must plan looking forward to help provide reliable drinking water to the service area.
  • With communities conserving water there is no need for ocean water desalination