Amid historic drought, California approves $140 mln desalination plant

Reuters, October 13 – A $140 million desalination facility was overwhelmingly approved by California officials on Thursday, providing a model for how the state might transform ocean water into drinking water amid the worst drought in 1,200 years.

The same Coastal Commission unanimously rejected a far larger, privately owned plant just five months prior, citing environmental concerns.

However, the Doheny Ocean Desalination Project proposed by the South Coast Water District, which is just 10% as large, was approved with the same 11-0 majority.

The project will supply a small water utility in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, with 5 million gallons of drinking water each day, enough for about 40,000 people.

As the first desalination that the Coastal Commission has permitted since more stringent rules were implemented in 2019, it establishes a precedent.

The experts agree that smaller ones can be better when it comes to environmental preservation.

“It is more agile. Modular solutions are going to rule the world in the future “said Newsha Ajami, a researcher in the Earth & Environmental Sciences Division of Berkeley Lab.

The Coastal Commission was considered to be the biggest regulatory barrier even though the project still needs other state licenses.

A larger proposal by Poseidon Water, the infrastructure division of Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management, was rejected by the Coastal Commission 25 miles (40 km) down the coast from the intended site (BAMa. too).

The anti-Poseidon plant protesting environmental groups were mainly silent this time.

At the hearing on Thursday, opponents of the Doheny project, including several Sierra Club members, expressed worry over the project’s effects on marine life and the amount of energy needed to pump ocean water through the plant’s reverse osmosis filters.

The proposal’s negative effects were reduced, according to the Coastal Commission staff, who recommended approval.

According to calculations made by the Coastal Commission, Poseidon’s facility would have drawn in enormous amounts of water from above the ocean floor, destroying sea life.

A subsurface intake that generates a barely audible current will be used by the Doheny plant.

To reduce the negative consequences of having two diffusers pouring effluent into the sea at Doheny, the brine produced by desalination will be mixed with the outflow of a nearby wastewater treatment facility.

According to Tom Luster, a senior environmental scientist on the Coastal Commission’s staff, the state is researching potential areas for comparable plants.

“This could be replicated at several places up and down the coast,” Luster said.

“It’s a fairly small-scale facility, but it provides for the local needs and it frees up water for other communities.”

Source: Reuters

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.