RE: Catalina Island and SoCal Edison’s Desalination Plants are Quenching Thirst (July 8-21)
“What happens to the salt that is removed from the water? Is it pumped back into the ocean? Does that not create an eco-issue, too much salt in a given area?”
Answer: According to Senior Supervisor of Water and Gas Operations for SoCal Edison, Frank Beach, only about 40-44 percent of the salt water that is taken in is treated to become fresh water.
The remaining 60 percent is sent back to the ocean along with the additional salt as brine that is extracted from the 40-44 percent as to not shock the ocean’s salt balance.
The desal plant has to undergo a regular permitting process which ensures the facility isn’t impacting the ocean and surrounding environment.
“The State Water Resources Control Board issues SCE an operational permit, regularly renewed, that ensures the higher salinity water we release does not have any adverse impact to the surrounding environment,” said SoCal Edison Spokesperson Brian Leventhal in a July 20 email. “One of the conditions of this permit is that we routinely sample ocean water in close proximity to our facility to validate that the salinity of the ocean water is not changing. We take this responsibility seriously and are committed to being good stewards of Catalina’s environment…. In addition, our desalination plant reduces reliance on the limited groundwater supply in Catalina. This makes these groundwater supplies more available to the Catalina ecosystem and leads to more fresh water flowing back into the ocean above and below ground.”