California Ocean Desal Proponents: Private and Public
Based in Stanford, Conn., this private company built the largest ocean desal plant in the
western hemisphere in Tampa Bay, Fl. The 25 MGD facility has never worked to full capacity
and the local water authority bought the plant to get rid of Poseidon and now costs to fix the
broken plant are expected to be at least $29 million.
Now, Poseidon is planning several ocean desal plants in California, all twice the size of the
failed Tampa Bay plant. They are currently working on proposals in Huntington Beach and
Carlsbad (both 50 MGD), and have recently made an agreement with Pajaro-Sunny Mesa to
work on a plant, about the same size of the Tampa Bay facility, in Moss Landing (20-25 MGD).
Cal Am (California American)
Cal Am was purchased in 2003 by American Water Works, which was subsequently
purchased by the German-owned conglomerate RWE. There currently is a ballot initiative in
the Monterey area for a public takeover of Cal Am through Measure W.
Cal Am is planning to build a 9-18 MGD plant in Moss Landing. They have proposed a rate
increase to their customers to pay for this plant when it is still unsure if the plant will ever be
build and ever produce water. This issue is in front of the California Public Utilities
Commission (CPUC) at this moment.
San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA)
SDCWA recently released an EIR for their proposed desal facility located at the Encina power
plant in Carlsbad. This plant would produce 50 MGD with a future expansion of 30 MGD.
They also proposed a desal plant in South Bay but that is currently on hold, and are also
involved with a 100 MGD proposal located at the San Onofre nuclear power plant. This
proposal is with the MWD and MWDOC.
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP)
LADWP is looking at their three power plants in LA county for a potential desal plant and
recently began operation of a pilot plant in Long Beach at their Haynes power station. This
pilot plant uses subsurface beach wells instead of cooling water. They are also proposing a
10-25 MGD plant to be located at the Scattergood power plant in Los Angeles.
Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC)
MWDOC is looking at using subsurface beach wells at their proposed desal plant in Dana
Point in Southern California. The facility would produce 10-25 MGD and is currently in the
planning and feasibility stage. They are also involved with a 100 MGD proposal with SDCWA
and MWD to be located at the San Onofre nuclear power plant.
West Basin Municipal Water Districts
West Basin Municipal Water Districts are involved with a pilot plant that is currently running at
the El Segundo Power plant in Southern California. However, they have not secured a site for
a full-scale desal plant at this location.
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD)
The MWD is the largest water district in the US. It has offered $250 per acre-foot subsidy for
potable water produced by desal plants. This subsidy, promised before any plants are built
or produce water, lowers the cost of the desal water, hiding the "real" cost of the water. This
subsidy in combined with subsidies proposed in S 1016 and HR 1071 for water and energy,
give up to $650 per acre-foot in subsidies, which is already more than the cost of imported
MWD is looking at a regional desal plant that could potentially produce up to 100 MGD at the
Haynes power plant in Long Beach as well as a 100 MGD proposal with SDCWA and
MWDOC to be located at the San Onofre nuclear power plant.
Pejaro-Sunny Mesa Community Service District has an agreement with Poseidon Resources
for a 20-25 MGD desal plant in Moss Landing.
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