Is desalination the solution to California’s drought?

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California’s water problem and desalination

Click this link for more information about the California drought!

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 Lake Orville in 2011 vs. Lake Orville in 2014

 

California closed the books on one of the driest “water years” on record and began what could be a fourth consecutive dry year stretching into 2015. The lack of rain and snow, combined with extremely high temperatures, has created some of the most serious drought conditions the state has faced in decades.  Under the bright Southern California sunshine, several hundred workers are building a pipeline to what may soon be thought of as the state’s biggest drinking fountain, the coastline. Using an elaborate filtration system, the $1 billion plant, built by the private company Poseidon Water, will turn 100 million gallons of salty Pacific Ocean water into 50 million gallons of drinking water for San Diego County residents. carlsbad beach

“There is no more cheap water available,” said Sandy Kerl, who currently runs the San Diego Water Authority. But, economics and environmental concerns have proven to be stumbling blocks to desalination, as numerous plants have been proposed and never built. Environmentalists say desalination can kill marine life in areas they draw water from. In addition, mountainous coastline topography makes constructing pipelines difficult and pricey. Today, however, with growing populations and rapidly shrinking surface and groundwater supplies, desalination is getting a serious second look. More than seventeen desalination plants are in the planning phases along the California coast; from Santa Cruz in the north to Carlsbad in the south. The largest desalination plant in the Western world in Carlsbad is being built and should be functioning by the end of 2015.california-drought-9a_9e8af26758148bc2e47936383e0f5f3f

Removing salt from sea water is expensive, one of the reasons is due to high consumption of electricity. It’s cheaper to tap groundwater and increase conservation. But, as drought becomes more the norm than the exception it seems self-evident that the best possible future won’t be found in draining every reservoir, sucking dry every waterhole, and turning arid land into barren sand. Mark Weston, chairman of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors released a statement saying, “But it’s important to remember that the purpose of the desalination projects isn’t only to help during the current drought. It will be a core, high-quality water source for decades, and it is a key part of the water authority’s strategy to improve the reliability of our region’s water supply by diversifying our water resources.” County water officials said the next few months will be critical in determining whether harsher restrictions on water use will be necessary in throughout California. This is significant because the decision of bringing desalination plants will greatly impact our water supply and possibly our drought. Without new avenues to water, our scarce resources will be diminished if the drought continues. Although desalination plants do have its drawbacks, it may be the panacea to our water crisis.

Carlsbad_desalination_plant2

Carlsbad’s desalination plant is expecting to run by the end of 2015

“Could Desalination Solve California’s Water Problem?” Sacbee. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2014.

“Unsafe Water Only Adds to California Drought Misery.” CNBC. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.

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