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Archive for the ‘Carlsbad Desalination Project’ Category

Carlsbad desalination plant tour (photos)

Posted by George J Janczyn on February 23, 2016

Here are photos I took today during a guided tour of the recently opened Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. The tour was conducted by Jessica Jones, Community Outreach Manger for Poseidon Water. Additional tours will be held in the future, although many of them are already booked. See Poseidon’s website for tour information (

Photos can be clicked for an enlarged version, which may be needed to read the posterboard descriptions. The last photo shows everyone receiving a glass of newly desalinated water.





















Posted in Carlsbad Desalination Project, Desalination, Poseidon Desalination Plant (Carlsbad), San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) | 3 Comments »

SDCWA special workshop on Poseidon Carlsbad desalination project

Posted by George J Janczyn on June 15, 2012

A San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) Board of Directors special workshop on the Carlsbad Seawater Desalination Project was held Thursday, June 14.

On the agenda for the informational workshop was a) integration of the Carlsbad Desalination Project into existing infrastructure, b) examination of the range costs with comparisons to the unit cost of alternative local supplies, and c) incorporation of costs related to desalinated water from Poseidon’s Carlsbad plant into the Water Authority’s rates and charges.

Although it was an informational workshop, not a decision-making meeting, there were several people who took advantage of the public comment period before the session began, including Nate Cooper and Julia Chunn-Heer (representing the San Diego chapter of Surfrider Foundation) who encouraged that more effort be used on soliciting public input on desalination and that Indirect Potable Reuse (aka IPR, aka purified recycled water) be given a much higher priority than it now has in SDCWA’s strategic thinking.

Water Resources Director Ken Weinberg was the main speaker at the workshop. The first segment was to explain SDCWA’s efforts at “Balancing Treated Demand and Annual Contractual Commitment.”

SDCWA, being the water wholesaler to 24 member agencies in San Diego County, sells/provides both treated and untreated water. Approximately 60% of its deliveries are untreated water, 40% treated water. The desalinated water from the Poseidon Carlsbad facility is treated water. The question is how to integrate the treated desal water into the existing treated water infrastructure delivering that 40%.

Presently SDCWA gets its treated water via existing contractual (and even mechanically built-in*) requirements to buy a minimum amount of treated water from MWD (via the Skinner Water Treatment Plant) and needs to produce a minimum amount at its own Twin Oaks Valley WTP.

The Authority also provides treated water indirectly through arrangements with individual member agencies such as Helix Water District and the City of San Diego (who buy untreated water and treat it themselves) to provide treated water to areas that SDCWA can’t reach with its own infrastructure.

The prospect of SDCWA using the Poseidon Desalination facility as a new source of treated water meant that the countywide demand for treated water needed to be thoroughly analyzed, including study of local hydrology, seasonal variation, and projected future demand.

The goal: optimize the use of all regional treated water facilities and figure out what the Water Authority’s contracted annual minimum deliveries from Poseidon should be.

At one point it was acknowledged that the City of San Diego’s potential use of IPR wasn’t taken into account in the demand study because the city buys only untreated water from SDCWA and does its own treatment, i.e., if San Diego produces IPR water for itself there would be no effect on countywide demand for treated water.

Director Keith Lewinger picked up on this and made an interesting point that was startlingly obvious even though some of us may not have really considered it: if San Diego engages in a large-scale IPR operation it will buy less untreated water from SDCWA which could be financially harmful to SDCWA.

(The implication, in my view, is that this could influence just how much wholehearted support San Diego gets from SDCWA for implementing IPR on a large scale. Also, it seems to me that things will be quite complicated on many levels because San Diego’s purified recycled water (IPR) would reside in the San Vicente Reservoir but SDCWA will own the rights to the reservoir’s additional capacity when the dam raise project is completed. Many issues and kinds of water will be all mixed up.)

The second portion of the workshop focused on costs and how they would be incorporated into rates and charges. This part of the study is also extraordinarily complicated but I’ve no time or space to give justice to the breadth of that discussion.

Bradley Fikes gives the costs and rates issue a closer look in his North County Times story “Desal project would raise average water bills 7 percent“. Mike Lee’s U-T San Diego article “Carlsbad desal plant, pipe costs near $1 billion” chimes in on the issue.

The agenda, full audio recording of the workshop, and the presentation slides from the June 14 meeting are available on SDCWA’s website [link].

Note this was an informational workshop, not one where decisions were made. Check the presentation slides mentioned above. The last slide shows Next Steps listing future meeting dates and topics to be addressed (and opportunity for public commment, I hope) over the next several months.


* Mechanical, in that the meter/valve on the treated water pipeline incoming from MWD cannot measure the amount of flow if it is below the minimum contracted amount. If less is taken, payment for the full amount is still required.


Posted in Carlsbad Desalination Project, Poseidon Desalination Plant (Carlsbad), Purified recycled water, San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), Water | 1 Comment »

MWD to San Diego water managers: you’ve betrayed us

Posted by George J Janczyn on June 23, 2011

[updated June 24]

You’ll recall that Metropolitan Water District (MWD) recently terminated a number of agreements to help fund local conservation and water supply development projects like the San Vicente Recycling project in Ramona and also decided against entering pending agreements to support projects such as the Carlsbad Seawater Desalination Project.

San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) has a big objection: MWD funds such conservation program agreements from its Water Stewardship Rate fee…and SDCWA’s contribution to that fund comes to a cool $22.5 million per year. Not fair, they say.

SDCWA says MWD’s terminations amount to “retaliation” for a lawsuit charging that MWD’s water transportation rate structure is illegal. SDCWA says MWD’s rates are illegal in part because MWD overcharges for delivering water that SDCWA already owns, in effect subsidizing MWD’s State Water Project water. This circumstance comes about because SDCWA buys Imperial Valley water from Imperial Irrigation District and pays MWD a wheeling charge to transport to the water to San Diego Aqueduct pipelines via the Colorado River Aqueduct. What gets bundled into that wheeling charge is the question.

The topic came up at this morning’s SDCWA Imported Water Committee meeting, part of a monthly all-day committee marathon culminating in a Board meeting.

“SDCWA pays $22.5 million per year to support that program and receives nothing in return?” asked Director Doug Wilson. “Why don’t we just stop sending that money and keep it for ourselves?” That was met with silent agreement, but General Manager Maureen Stapleton cautioned that there would be complications with unilaterally stopping those payments.

However, the meeting agenda packet reveals a variant tactic. A letter sent on June 13 to MWD Chairman Jack Foley reads in part:

“The Water Authority pays more to support MWD’s conservation and local supply programs than any other MWD member agency. By MWD’s own estimate, the Water Authority averages $22.5 million annually in Water Stewardship Rate payments; yet, under MWD board policy and action
under the RSI clause, the Water Authority and the ratepayers it serves are ineligible for program
benefits. The Water Authority hereby makes formal demand that MWD cease collection of Water Stewardship Rate dollars from the Water Authority’s ratepayers so we may fund our own conservation and local water supply development projects directly.”

The letter was signed by Directors Jim Bowersox, Lynne Heidel, Keith Lewinger, and Fern Steiner.

Director Lewinger lobbied that it’s time to begin a really vigorous public relations campaign and flood the county with updates and news highlighting the situation.

Was MWD retaliating for the lawsuit when it terminated its agreements? SDCWA Director Lynne Heidel said MWD Chairman Foley recently told her “You’re all a bunch of Benedict Arnolds.” Kidding? – maybe.* But GM Stapleton said she heard the same thing and that Foley later told her “Don’t take it personally.” Stapleton’s reply: “Just call me Ms. Arnold.”

* June 24: Someone told me they didn’t understand what the “betrayal” was. My take is that these are water management colleagues who are normally on friendly terms and the lawsuit puts them in a sensitive position, perhaps like someone choosing sides when a couple with whom (s)he is mutual friends are getting divorced. I guess Stapleton could have also replied that MWD was the Benedict Arnold by engaging in retaliation.




The following is from a handout provided at the committee meeting showing the status of the existing and pending agreements with MWD.


Posted in Carlsbad Desalination Project, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Poseidon Desalination Plant (Carlsbad), San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), Water, Water conservation | 2 Comments »

Water Authority approves desalination MOU with Marines

Posted by George J Janczyn on April 22, 2010


Posted in Carlsbad Desalination Project, Environment, San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), Water, Water desalination | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Carlsbad desalination project survives revocation attempt

Posted by George J Janczyn on February 10, 2010

The California Coastal Commission voted 8-4 today against a motion to revoke the approval for the Carlsbad Desalination Plant.

At issue was whether the commission had earlier been misled about whether and how the project would be “carbon neutral.” The groups asking for revocation of the permit said that Poseidon Resources misled the commission into believing that Metropolitan Water District (MWD) would reduce its imports from the State Water Project (SWP) although later information revealed MWD would NOT reduce its imports (i.e., the key being that carbon emissions from the plant were to be offset by reduced carbon emissions from imported water).

What emerged during discussion is that the even though MWD would not reduce its SWP imports, it WOULD reduce water sent to San Diego. Since San Diego area reductions in water imports, not MWD reductions in SWP imports, were the basis of the commission’s understanding of carbon offsets for the plant, it became clear there wasn’t much more to discuss.

The majority view for the vote was, therefore, yes, Poseidon made misleading statements about MWD’s role, but that didn’t change the carbon offset picture for San Diego, and commissioners would not have voted differently at the beginning, knowing what they now know, although a few members did say that they might have wanted additional conditions.

This new lawsuit didn’t take long, though:

April 26, 2010: Surfrider Foundation files suit against San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board over Carlsbad Desalination Plant / Know Your H20


[* = best reports]

Posted in Carlsbad Desalination Project, Water | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Desalination plant in Carlsbad

Posted by George J Janczyn on November 4, 2009

Construction to begin at the Poseidon desalination plant in Carlsbad:

But despite initially saying it will pay all costs, Poseidon wants public funding for the project:

Updates added after posting

Posted in Carlsbad Desalination Project, Environment, Water, Water desalination | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »