On May 8th, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board approved the long-term operation of Poseidon Water’s Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Seawater Desalination Plant. The Carlsbad facility, the largest, most technologically advanced and energy efficient seawater desalination plant in the Americas, is the first facility to be approved under the State Water Resources Control Board’s seawater desalination regulations.
According to the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board’s press release, “Desalinated water, as regulated by the permit for Poseidon, is an important component of our overall water supply portfolio,” said San Diego Water Board chair Henry Abarbanel.
“The updates are expected to increase the facility’s drinking water production from 54 to 60 million gallons per day, a significant boost in light of the region’s arid climate and inevitability of droughts. The renewed permit supports the use of ocean water as a reliable supplement to traditional water supplies and features a number of environmental protections adopted by the State Water Board in its Desalination Amendment in May 2015. California is a world leader in desalination permitting and environmental protection.”
The Regional Water Board’s action authorizes Poseidon Water to build a new environmentally-superior intake system with state-of-the-art screening technology that will minimize marine life effects. These same screens, known as “wedgewire screens,” which have slot widths narrower than the thickness of a credit card, are also proposed for the Huntington Beach desalination project. No fish are impacted by the intake system and only the microscopic organisms smaller than 1 millimeter can enter the system. The Regional Board also approved Poseidon’s proposed plan to create 68.3 acres of wetlands in south San Diego Bay to offset the negligible environmental impact the project has on marine life.
“As the world leader in desalination permitting and environmental protection, California takes pride in ensuring this project provides a new climate resilient water supply in the most environmentally protective manner feasible,” stated the Regional Board’s press release.
“The Carlsbad Desalination Plant is an invaluable asset for the state and region that helps us adapt to the changing climate and sustain a $231 billion regional economy,” said Jim Madaffer, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “It is the most environmentally sensitive and technologically advanced plant of its kind in the nation – part of our commitment to collaborative projects and integrated water solutions for San Diego and the Southwest.”
“In approving the permit, Abarbanel said, “the Board balanced the environmental impacts and costs of source water intake and brine disposal for the next several decades with the many beneficial uses of the Pacific Ocean and Agua Hedionda Lagoon.”
“Desalination must be included in any discussion of future water sources for Orange County."