Salt of the Earth: Desalination in California

STATEWIDE — Poseidon’s plans to build its billion-dollar desalination plant just off the Huntington Beach coast continues to endure an up-and-down saga. It remains to be seen when the plant will become operational, if at all.

The proposed desalination plant in Huntington Beach is not the first attempt to address California’s rampant water insecurity and constant battle with droughts. There are 19 existing or proposed seawater desalination plants operational up and down the Golden State’s coastline.

Nearly one-third of the plants are in the Monterey Bay region. The San Diego suburb of Carlsbad recently brought its desalination plant – which is operated by Poseidon – online. A public meeting was held June 26 in San Juan Capistrano to discuss plans for an ocean desalination project at Doheny State Beach.

The Doheny desalination project in South Orange County would, at the outset, be able to store up to five million gallons of converted water daily.

“Using environmentally friendly slat well technology, located beneath the ocean floor, the proposed project would draw water from beneath the ocean floor to the desalination facility site, located on the [water] district’s property behind the Doubletree Hotel,” a South Coast Water District flyer for the June 26 public meeting stated.

Other saltwater-to-freshwater conversion projects potentially on the horizon: a desalination pilot project at Camp Pendleton, three sites in the Monterey Bay region and a possible plant in Southern California’s South Bay area.

Desalination plants are also operational at five locations in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and on San Nicolas and Catalina islands.

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