Carlsbad desalinates the water issue

Carlsbad desalinates the water issue

With water shortages and constantly rising water prices in California, the state must look into alternative options to provide usable water for its citizens. In 1998, Carlsbad officials teamed up with Poseidon to envision a sustainable, future water supply. September 2009 marked the beginning of construction, and Carlsbad’s plant would become the largest desalination plant in the western hemisphere.

The project is privately funded and developed by the Poseidon Resources Corporation. In December 2012, Poseidon purchased a four-acre site adjacent to the Encina Power Plant, which will include the desalination plant, water storage, pumping station and ten-mile water conveyance pipeline.

By 2016, the plant is expected to output 50 million gallons of desalinated seawater per day and provide ten percent of the drinking water San Diego requires. In addition, it will generate 2,300 jobs during the construction phase and 575 jobs during operation, which will also include paid and unpaid internships students can participate in.

With environmental conservation in mind, the plant’s compact design will reduce its physical footprint and impact on the environment. The plant will include a solar power generation system on its roof, an energy recovery system and and energy-efficient motors for all of its pumps. About 80 percent of the pipes for the plant will be made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic and high-density polyethylene materials to save energy in the sea water extraction process. Further, the project will dedicate 15 acres of lagoon and oceanfront to improve access and recreation for the general public .

Since its initial proposal in 1998, the plan has faced numerous setbacks that have delayed construction. A total of 14 opposition cases were filed against the project, mostly by Coastkeeper and the Surfrider foundation. However, in June 2011, the California Superior Court upheld its decision to continue the construction of the plant, ending the legal disputes.

With Carlsbad currently importing more than 99 percent of the water its citizens use, the construction of the desalination plant will help Carlsbad become more independent from the San Diego and, more importantly, provide for the county’s increasing water needs, becoming one of the only cities that is a water exporter in the western United States.

“This desalination project will provide a local, drought-proof water supply for 7 percent of San Diego County’s drinking water needs,” Wendy Chambers, Assistant General Manager of the Carlsbad Municipal Water District, said.

With Carlsbad Unified School District’s budget-increasing expenditure on utilities such as water and electricity, the desalination plant ensures future cost cuts, providing for increases in supplies, teachers and programs. Jobs that current students can look forward to include mechanical, chemical, environmental, and maintenance engineering, as well as multiple environmental and logistical positions.

In broader terms, the addition of the desalination plant is a clear plus to Carlsbad endeavors, aiding the residents, the school district, CHS students in the workforce and most importantly, the desperate water issue in Southern California.