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Archive for the ‘Poseidon Desalination Plant (Carlsbad)’ 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 »

San Diego water rates and charges after completion of the Carlsbad desalination plant

Posted by George J Janczyn on July 16, 2012

The San Diego County Water Authority held a special board meeting July 12, 2012 to hear a discussion about a possible framework to guide how San Diego County water agencies could be charged for water when the Poseidon Carlsbad Desalination Project is complete.

One question for the City of San Diego (which buys only untreated water and will not receive desalinated water) is how much it will nevertheless be required to contribute to the project’s expense.

Listen in and watch here.

Audio part 1

Audio part 2


(view as PDF)



To be continued at the next SDCWA board meeting scheduled for July 26.


Posted in Desalination, Poseidon Desalination Plant (Carlsbad), Water, Water rates | 1 Comment »

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 »

Update on MWD’s subsidy (or not) for the Poseidon desalination plant

Posted by George J Janczyn on June 16, 2011

This is a followup to Tuesday’s post Lawsuit leads to cut in Poseidon desalination subsidy and more in which a San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) news release was cited. The news release, in part, said “The MWD board also instructed its staff to refuse to consider any pending or future local supply development projects in San Diego County. The pending agreements included the Carlsbad Seawater Desalination Project, which would have been eligible for up to $14 million in annual payments…

Today a story in the Desalination & Water Reuse website writes that Poseidon Resources “denied reports that the current standoff in Southern California between the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) and the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) will affect the Carlsbad Desalination Project” and that a Poseidon representative said “This claim is incorrect and shows a disappointing lack of understanding about the project’s status and financing.”

A review of the summary report for the June 14 MWD Board meeting doesn’t clarify things much:

“The board reviewed the Rate Structure Integrity provisions of Local Resources Program and conservation agreements with the San Diego County Water Authority; voted to not terminate the two regional commercial and residential conservation incentives agreements; and approved termination of the remaining two active conservation and Local Resources Program funding agreements with the Water Authority.”

Looking deeper in the MWD Board Agenda packet, the Legal and Claims Committee provided the Board with several options. The recommended option reads:

…”terminate the existing incentive agreements with the Water Authority that contain rate structure integrity language. This option is consistent with the policy set forth by the RSI language. Staff will also continue to defer the approval of any pending agreements with the Water Authority requiring inclusion of the RSI provisions, until authorized by the Board.” [the Carlsbad subsidy is one of those pending agreements]

As noted, the meeting summary doesn’t mention the pending agreements, but assuming the Board approved the recommended option, it appears the Carlsbad desalination agreement was not specifically terminated; rather, it remains in the same limbo that was created at MWD’s May 10 meeting which deferred execution of the agreement until further notice.


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

Lawsuit leads to cut in Poseidon desalination subsidy and more

Posted by George J Janczyn on June 14, 2011

[updated June 16–see bottom]

As predicted here one year ago (San Diego County Water Authority water pricing lawsuit could jeopardize funding for Carlsbad Desalination Plant), the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) has moved to terminate an agreement that would have paid a subsidy of $250 per acre foot (potentially $14M annually) to Posiedon and the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) for water produced at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. According to the SDCWA news release, “The MWD board also instructed its staff to refuse to consider any pending or future local supply development projects in San Diego County. The pending agreements included the Carlsbad Seawater Desalination Project, which would have been eligible for up to $14 million in annual payments.” SDCWA said MWD’s action was retaliation for its lawsuit filed last year challenging MWD’s water rates.

Other MWD conservation rebates were also affected.

Here are news releases from both parties and local news reports:

A few days ago, the Sacramento Bee had this observation on the dispute: Warring water agencies should tone down rhetoric.

June 16: MWD move will not affect Carlsbad desalination, says Poseidon

Please see also the June 16 update to this story


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

Water Authority Board to pursue terms for water purchase agreement with Poseidon Resources

Posted by George J Janczyn on June 24, 2010

[News release – San Diego County Water Authority, June 24, 2010]

After weighing a number of options designed to ensure the successful construction of the nation’s largest seawater desalination plant, the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors today directed the agency’s staff to return to its July 22 meeting with draft terms and conditions for purchasing water directly from the Carlsbad Desalination Project, currently being developed by Poseidon Resources.

The board’s direction followed a presentation and discussion of three recommended options for the Water Authority’s financial participation in the privately-owned seawater desalination plant. Other options considered by the board included Water Authority grants and loans to nine member agencies that contracted to purchase water from the project.

“The Board decided that the direct-purchase option provided the greatest likelihood the project will be built, and because it ensures all member agencies share equally in the cost and benefits of this reliable local water supply,” said Claude A. “Bud” Lewis, chair of the Water Authority Board of Directors. “Direct purchase by the Water Authority is also the most fiscally responsible option to support the completion of this important regional project.”

Under the option selected by the board, the Water Authority would become the direct purchaser of the plant’s desalinated seawater and then sell it to its member agencies. Poseidon and nine local water agencies, collectively known as the Desal Partners, would then terminate their current water purchase agreements. The Desal Partners are Carlsbad Municipal Water District, the city of Oceanside, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, Rincon del Diablo Water District, Rainbow Municipal Water District, Santa Fe Irrigation District, Sweetwater Authority, Valley Center Municipal Water District and Vallecitos Water District.

The Carlsbad Desalination Project is a fully permitted, 50 million-gallon-per-day seawater desalination project located at the Encina Power Station in Carlsbad. In 2020, the project is projected to account for 8 percent of the region’s total water supply.

(See also: Poseidon Resources news release)

Reactions in the news (will add more if they appear):

County Water Authority to explore doing desalination deal / North County Times

S.D. Water Authority votes for desalination / SignOnSanDiego

Related: Poseidon may get subsidy for Calif. plant / Stamford Advocate

[Added 6/25] What would Jesus do? (about the Carlsbad Desalination Project) / Blogs

Early reactions from local tweeps (without their names):

“Expensive desalination right to your front door, only 3x the cost of current supplies!”

“Truth? SDDT claims the $500M plant only $170M. Difference must be Poseidon’s profit.”

“Your water agency wants you to pay more for water. I don’t get it.”

“Wouldn’t it be awkward for SDCWA to buy Poseidon’s water AND guarantee their MWD subsidy?”

Posted in Commerce, Poseidon Desalination Plant (Carlsbad), San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), Water, Water desalination | Leave a Comment »

San Diego regional water news roundup June 18-23, 2010

Posted by George J Janczyn on June 24, 2010


City looks into earth-friendly solar power / The Coast News“OCEANSIDE — SunEdison presented an overview of a proposed solar photo-voltaic system at a community workshop held June 9. The solar system promises to fuel part of the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation facility at a lower cost and reduce the plant’s carbon footprint.”

Indirect potable reuse: the solution to San Diego’s water crisis [student contest essay] / Voice of San Diego“Purified wastewater is completely safe for drinking and has the potential to alleviate environmental strains and aid in reversing San Diego’s water crisis.”

Helix votes to hike water rates — again / East County Magazine“By a 3-2 vote, Helix Water District’s Board on June 16 voted to increase water rates as recommended by staff. Board members Kathleen Coates Hedberg and De Ana Verbeke opposed the rate hike, while members Richard Smith, John Linden and Chuck Muse voted in favor of raising rates. The rate hike would average 8.8% per household, or an average of $10.06. But higher water users may pay up to 12% more.”

Lutar: Taxpayers support and need Carlsbad desalination project [commentary] / San Diego News Network“As an independent, non-profit organization fighting for the rights of California’s taxpayers, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association believes the Carlsbad Desalination Project is an innovative public-private partnership that protects taxpayers from financial risk while providing a desperately needed new drinking water supply.”

County Water Authority prepares for major quake / 10News“The most recent earthquakes to shake San Diego have raised more awareness of the possibility of a major earthquake hitting southern California, but water officials said they have already begun preparing.”

Water conservation in Calexico to remain until treatment facility is operational / Imperial Valley Press“Water conservation here will remain in effect until technicians finish work on a facility that may not be completed until the end of July, an official said Tuesday. Calexico’s 10 million gallon clarifier was severely damaged during the 7.2-magnitude April 4 earthquake which prompted the call for residents to conserve water.”

Poseidon desal deal? Govt may rescue junk bond project / Surf City Voice“Due to soaring cost estimates and lack of private financing for a proposed 50-million-gallon per day Carlsbad desalination project, a government water agency may negotiate a takeover deal with the project’s developer, Poseidon Resources, Inc.”

Agencies ask Water Authority to save desal project / North County Times“Local cities and water districts are asking the Water Authority to take over their contract with Poseidon Resources Corp., said officials from the nine agencies involved. The Water Authority is scheduled to consider that request at its board meeting Thursday, according to its agenda.”

CA Attorney General’s office threatens lawsuit against Padre Dam after water district defies Native American Heritage Commission, continues construction at site deemed sacred / East County Magazine“Community leaders testify on Viejas’ behalf, ask Padre’s water board to find alternative solution;
Viejas to ask judge on Friday to extend injunction”

More questions about public pensions — at Helix Water [commentary] / La Mesa Today“The Saturday edition of the U/T reported a planned 8.8% hike in water rates for the Helix Water District (HWD). This outrageous action is another instance of our elected representatives putting the well being of public sector employees above their constituents. While the HWD Board asks ratepayers for more money, they continue to pay outrageous benefits to their employees.”


Posted in Helix Water District, Indirect potable reuse, Poseidon Desalination Plant (Carlsbad), Regional water news roundups, San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), Water, Water rates | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

San Diego County Water Authority water pricing lawsuit could jeopardize funding for Carlsbad Desalination Plant

Posted by George J Janczyn on June 11, 2010

The San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) Board of Directors unanimously approved filing suit against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) challenging the 2011 and 2012 water rates that MWD adopted in April. The SDCWA news release quotes Claude A. “Bud” Lewis, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors saying “MWD improperly overcharges the Water Authority and its ratepayers in violation of California law.” The special board meeting was yesterday (June 10, 2010).

Links to local media reports and SDCWA releases are listed below.

Interestingly, the lawsuit potentially jeopardizes a funding incentive for the Poseidon Desalination Plant and the Desal Partner agencies.

Poseidon, its Desal Partners, and the Water Authority have an agreement with MWD whereby they would receive up to $250 per acre foot from MWD under a Seawater Desalination Program Incentive for a term of 25 years. There is an MWD rule, however, that allows it to terminate incentives if a member agency legally or legislatively challenges the MWD water rate structure. Thus, if SDCWA does pursue the lawsuit, it could prompt MWD to terminate its incentive agreement.

Anticipating this possibility at an earlier SDCWA Board of Directors meeting on May 27, 2010 the Water Planning Committee reported that Poseidon and the Desal Partner agencies were asking the Water Authority to guarantee them those funds if the incentive agreement were terminated. That request was supposed to have been discussed at yesterday’s meeting, but it appears the Board has not made a final decision on that yet. [June 12: The North County Times picked up the incentive issue in a late p.m. story]

Posted in Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Poseidon Desalination Plant (Carlsbad), San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), Water | 1 Comment »