San Diego desalination plant water will be very expensive

Carlsbad desalination plant

The Carlsbad desalination plant in San Diego CA will be online this month, producing 50 million gallons of water a day. It will be the nation’s largest, most efficient, and technologically advanced desal plant. It also cost $1 billion to build. Thus, water from it will be expensive, over $2,000 an acre foot, about twice the cost of imported water from the Colorado River and the State Water Project. And therein lies the problem.

If water gets too expensive, people cut back on usage, sometimes to the point of not needing new supplies of water. Also, due to the way California water agreements work, San Diego, in the middle of a nasty drought, already has too much water stored and doesn’t need more. Yes, you read that right.

Unlike other parts of California, San Diego has 99% of the water needed for normal usage. But statewide conservation mandates have applied equally to areas that have plenty of water and those that don’t, so the result here has been water piling up unused while local water agencies raise rates to make up for lost sales.

“It’s real hard to tell them, ‘You have to let your grass die,’ and in the same breath you have to tell them, ‘We have more water than we can use, ‘” he said.

Lee said the authority expects the cost of treated imported water to surpass the cost of desalinated water by 2030.

The San Diego Water Authority has contracted to buy the desal water.

San Diego has “too much water” due to water conservation, meaning that customers will be paying more when the plant opens in a few months. I had called attention to this potential (well know) problem as well, i.e.,

It’s important … to ensure that SDCWA doesn’t get left with a white elephant, as the people of Melbourne, Australia just did with their A$3.5 billion project that is now mothballed due to recent rainfall.

Bottom Line: San Diego’s ratepayers are ALREADY paying for a mistake. I now predict that “excess supply” will be used to support further housing development.

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