Economics FAQ'S

Advances in technology and manufacturing have reduced the cost and energy requirements associated with ocean-water desalination, making it a viable water supply option. With grants and outside investment, desalted ocean water will only cost 30 percent more than imported water when it comes online in 2023. However, when its cost is combined with the costs of recycling and conservation, which are much lower than the cost of imported water, the overall cost of the Water Reliability Program is equal to importing water that could be far less reliable.

No. However, all water rates worldwide will be going up due primarily to population grow. In California, the cost of water will go up due to several factors, most of which are beyond our local control and include: increasing cost of energy, increasing cost of chemicals, need to find new water supplies, need to provide more water back to the environment, need to replace aging infrastructure, higher water quality requirements, need to clean up existing and future water contamination, and the fact that in the past, water rates were subsidized by water agencies. Unfortunately, such subsidies are fast disappearing.

West Basin has estimated the increase to a monthly water bill for a single family residence to be approximately $3/month, or the price of a Starbucks coffee. This $3/month would provide the West Basin service area with a new, locally reliable and drought proof water supply.

We are doing the EIR in order to gather sufficient information for our Board of Directors, so that they can make an intelligent decision on the need for desal and to make the decision to go or no go on a 20 MGD desal plant. Just to clarify, no decision has been made to do ocean water desalination at this time.

We have looked at many alternatives:
  • Capturing and recycling urban runoff would cost about $1,500 an AF
  • Conservation, without partners and grants can range in price from about $1,300 to $1,700 an AF
  • Our current 5 types of designer recycling water program, the average price of all types of our waters is about $1,650
  • Cleaning up groundwater is about $1,700 an AF
  • Ocean water desalination ranges from about $1,600 an AF, if we have a larger plant and another water agency partner, to about $1,900 an AF if West Basin does a 20 MGD plant without outside investment or partners
  • Grey water, if West Basin was to provide a grey water system for each home in its service area, the cost would be about $10,000 an AF
  • Other alternatives water transfers, storing water in groundwater basins, are less feasible due to local groundwater adjudication, interagency coordination, lack of sufficient supplies, or legality, it is currently illegal to directly serve purified wastewater although it is of near bottled water quality

Both water recycling and conservation use less energy than ocean water desalination, which is why we are expanding both these new sources of local water. However, they do not provide drinkable water. They do however, mitigate the slightly more energy required for desal when compared to imported water that all these supplies will replace.

Approximately $3.00 on you monthly water bill. 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 that amount would be significantly less – possibly nearly the cost of current water sources. You must remember, what is the value of reliable water and water that will be around for your children’s children or your grandchildren? Reliable water, such as, desal and recycling, have more value that water that may not be available in the future. The desal facility will cost approximately $380 million.

Our current estimates for a 20 MDG desal plant based our running a full scale desal demo plant for almost two years is that our desalted ocean water would cost somewhere between $1,900 per AF and $1,600 per AF if we were to build a 60 MGD plant with a partner.

One of the conditions that raised the cost of the Poseidon project was the need for a long pipeline to link up with the existing distribution system. That will not be the case with our project. The distribution system is near by where the plant will be located.

In the past, the WB’s WR program was funded on our rates, i.e. the sale of imported and recycled water. We estimate that the desal project will results in approximately a $3 per month increase on local water bills. However, outside investment will be sought. For example, West Basin’s water recycling plant had 1/3rd of the costs paid for by partnerships and outside grants.

Approximately $400 million.