California state reservoir levels have been declared dangerously low, with residents being told to cut back their water usage drastically. There was concern that even aquifers would be milked dry, but this water crisis might soon be over due to a $1 billion dollar water desalination plant that was in the works for 20 years.
The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant began operations on Monday, churning out 50 million gallons of drinkable water each day. Taking in 100 million gallons of seawater every day from the adjacent Agua Hedionda Lagoon, the plant puts the water through numerous processes designed to make it potable.
Impurities and particles are removed, and reverse osmosis makes the water fit enough to drink. The concentrated brine leftover is then diluted with seawater and piped back out to the ocean. Though the plant has critics already due to its unknown environmental impact, for now it will supply hundreds of thousands of Californian’s with clean water.
The plant is the largest desalination project in the Western Hemisphere to date, and with the help of Poseidon Water and the San Diego Water Authority, it was constructed in record time.
Officials claim the plant’s energy efficient processes allow the plant to run on half the energy other plants of the same capacity would require. That technology reportedly saves 146 million kilowatt-hours of energy each year, which is the equivalent of 9,000 cars. It will supply 300,000 San Diego residents with water, and if it is successful, other desalination plants will also be erected.
The Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit working to protect the world’s ocean, opposes the project. In a statement, the organization says desalination “should be the last tool in the tool box, not the first.”