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Desalination Plant Named For Former Carlsbad Mayor 'Bud' Lewis

Pipes at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, Dec. 14, 2015.
Erik Anderson
Pipes at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, Dec. 14, 2015.

Lewis, who died last year, served on the City Council for four decades

Desalination Plant Named For Former Carlsbad Mayor 'Bud' Lewis
Desalination Plant Named For Former Carlsbad Mayor 'Bud' Lewis Julia Chunn-Heer, policy manager, Surfrider Mark Weston, chairman, San Diego County Water Authority

The Britons have been cut, the speeches have been made and now water from the Poseidon desalination plant in Carlsbad is a part of San Diego water supply. It has long been a dream of regional planners to use ocean water to enhance San Diego's water supply. Questions about T cell sustainability and environmental impact remain. The cost of San Diego water customers is considerable. Joining me to call talk about this is Mark Weston is chair of the water authority or directors of San Diego County Water Authority. Mark, welcome to the program. Nice to be here. Also joining me is Julia Chunn-Heer with Surfrider . Cholla, welcome. Thank you for having me. It has been called a milestone for San Diego County beginning of a new era. You see this changing the dynamic of water resources for our region weeks For us is the completion of the year -- 25 year plan to help the sustainability of water. The desalination plant is about 10% of our water supply. We have done many things since 1991 which was our wake-up call. In 1991 we were faced with up to 50% reduction and we only had one water supply are bringing in water. This completes a new diversify portfolio that we have to provide long-term water service to the San Diego region. Julia, the same question to you. To see this is a game changer? I think a lot of eyes will be on this plan and I agree with Mark that we do need to diversify our water portfolio. The order in which the water supply options are implemented matters tremendously. If you the environmentally superior like conservation and water recycling first, then things like the desalination plant can be decided appropriately so subsurface intake can work and avoid some Marine might impact. Some folks trying to sue to stop this. Julia, that was several years ago, since the plant is a reality, has Surfrider changed it stands anyway? No, a lot of our police have been confirmed. Part of the reason for the litigation was that this is the first plan of its kind. It was all being done with a temporary permit. We were interpreting the law one way because of that temporary permit. The judge gave the regional board the interpretation of the law. Now that they had agree with our assessment and many the things we advocated in our lawsuit requirements of that amendment which is a state -- statewide policy. My voucher -- larger question is UCD cell as part of Los Angeles plan? It may be part of the future. We're looking at where the sale has worked well. That is not something we've done sufficiently here in California. In Israel it works well. Their water use is 1/5 of what ours is. In his January desalination has worked on occasion, they are using about have the moderator we would ask for increased conservation, and before returned to desalination and because it is intensive and causes greenhouse gases. The greenhouse -- if we can servan of it would move forward more quickly on purified wastewater we would need to tap ocean water. Do you see validity to that argument? The water authority is taking on all of the above approach. No one problem -- one thing will solve our water problems. In 1991 we were aggressive with water conservation. We support widespread water recycling. We developed the first large transfer from conserve water to urban areas in Imperial Valley to San Diego County. Did the All-American Canal Coachella Canal creating significant new water supply for San Diego County. We're great supporters of potable reuse as well as re-water for irrigation. Recycled water for irrigation. Some of the technology in the desalination facility was not available yet. While we can look at one moment in time and say maybe a decision is not the right decision, in our case with the approach we needed multiple new water supplies. We pursued all of them. We are not.. We continue supporting the San Diego water program's, helix are looking at of potable water reuse plant. We think those will all be part of the equation. I do want to address the conservation. On a per capita use, we have reduced per capita water usage by over 40% in the region. That comes from education and the water authority sponsoring almost all the labor conservation legislation. When you use your low flush toilet, you can think of water authority. I will remember that. Let's talk about the cost. What kind of increases with the customer see in their bills as a result? We are estimating about five dollars per month per household. I think many of the agencies are looking at when they brought the cost of the water into their rate structure about a 10% increase. Many agencies spread that over multiple years because they saw it coming in this year. There may have started bringing in the rate increase last year. It is an economical way to get % of the drought proof water supply. We are not depending on important from the north. So we're not were not relying on rain or snow in Northern California. We are also some of the earthquake faults. We wanted to make sure any new water we develop has some earthquake proof this to it. We have five pipelines that cross the major faults in Riverside and San Diego County one. This plant is something that. That gives us another level of security. Julia, you mentioned Israel. And Israel's dependence on desalination, does Israel manage the energy and the environmental concerns that you have the environmental's have about desalination plant in some way? As a come -- help to overcome these concerns? Israel is a very different situation. They have about 1/10 of the water supply options we do. They are they are recycling 75% of their wastewater. Here, we only recycled 13%. Our uses about five times higher. They have done a lot of things we are advocating for before turning to desalination. If I could speak to explain before moving on, we have been at this for a while. With the county decided to approve this plan in 2012, reversing the same thing. We conservation first, we need recycling. They said we need all. Fast-forward three years to where we are now, and we're hearing things that County water authorities expressing to the state board that we don't need to conserve as much because we have desalination. We simply can't have it both ways. There's even efforts working against large water recycling in LA County. We feel that there is more effort that can be done. In terms of opportunities, for instance, over 1.5 billion gallons of wastewater are dispelled in California every day between here and Ventura. If we recycled just a fraction of that, we would need any of the desalination plants that are proposed. That's less cost, energy consumption, or greenhouse gases. In some ways we agreed that we need to diversify and have local supplies, but what are recycling can be posting needs. Conservation has been great. But our starting point was really off over 200 gallons a day per person which is substantially higher than many parts of the world with comparable climates. Now we're down to about 120 before the drought. He had a long way to go if we are going to look at #Australia or Israel where desalination becomes more appropriate. Mark, we're adding 10% of our water supply through this new desalination plant. Are we going to be cutting that 10% of the water that we get from Metropolitan or the other water that we import in order to keep our conservation going and keep that message where it needs to be? One of the messages that we had from the business community was we can't get into the situation of having not enough water. We went out and develop some long-term contracts to are in from the Imperial Valley to 50 so plant to work in support of the pure water program. We see that conservation is absolutely important. We will continue to promote the use of conservation as a water strategy. As an example, these emergency regulations we are living under now from the governor has brought about a tremendous change in the amount of landscape irrigation water that we see. As an example, on my block, there are 50 homes. 10 years ago almost all of them have lawns. Today, almost none of them have lawns. Are we going to cut the amount that we get those from Metropolitan because of this new desalination plant? Yes. To answer your question. Our long-term strategy has been to reduce the demand on the Bay Delta. Most of the Metropolitan water expects to get water from the Bay Delta. The governor's California action water plan was to get agencies off of the Delta. We are probably the poster child of reducing demands on the Delta by all of the above strategy that we have used. Along the term is that? Back -- We would like to continue to do reduce our demand on the Delta. Back. Rupture. So rupture. We are doing the preliminary planning. If San Diego posts forward with their peer water program, that would delay the need for another desalination plant. But they take so long to permit that we're going through the preliminary design and feasibility studies now. We're looking at such things as using wells and direct ocean and takes. I have to add that there. Thank you both very much. Mark Weston of treatment and Julia Chunn-Heer of Surfrider. Thank you both very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Desalination Plant Named For Former Carlsbad Mayor ‘Bud’ Lewis
The $1 billion desalination plant in Carlsbad was dedicated Monday in the name of the late Mayor Claude "Bud" Lewis, who died last year. Lewis served on the City Council for four decades, including 27 years as mayor.

A $1 billion desalination plant in Carlsbad that could provide a significant boost to the region's supply of potable water was dedicated Monday in the name of the late Mayor Claude "Bud" Lewis.

Lewis was mayor of the North County coastal city for 24 years, part of the four decades he spent on the Carlsbad City Council. During that time, Lewis, who died last year, was instrumental in making Carlsbad the host city for the plant, which was constructed over the past three years at the inlet to the Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

"The Claude 'Bud' Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant opens a new chapter in water supply reliability for the San Diego region and the state by tapping the potential of the Pacific Ocean and reducing dependence on strained resources such as the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta," said Mark Weston, chairman of the San Diego County Water Authority.

"It is bolstering the San Diego region's self-reliance and, in turn, its future," Weston said.

"The roots of this facility really date back 25 years. It was a similar multi-year drought in 1991, when we were going to be cut 31 percent of our water supply," he said.

Weston said the facility is a milestone in the agency's efforts to diversify the region's supply of fresh water, most of which is imported from the State Water Project and Colorado River.

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Besides the plant itself, construction included installation of a 10-mile pipeline to carry fresh water to water authority facilities in San Marcos, along with upgrades to other water authority infrastructure.

When the reverse osmosis plant goes into full operation, it's expected to produce 50 million gallons of drinking water a day, roughly one-tenth of the region's supply and about one-third of the fresh water generated locally.

Approval was bitterly fought by environmental groups, which contended it would harm marine life.

Julia Chun-Heer, spokeswoman for San Diego County's Surfrider Foundation chapter, said water managers should be considering alternatives before they approve such an expensive water source. Desalinated water costs twice as much as imported water.

"Desalination may very well be a part of the equation, but it certainly should be the last tool in the tool box not the first,” Chun-Heer said. “And I think the public should also understand when it comes to marine life impacts. That's why the power plant in Carlsbad was moving away from an open ocean intake because of its impact on marine life."

Coast Law Group attorney Marco Gonzalez said the plant's opening doesn't signal an end to the debate.

“At the same time that we have Poseidon throwing up its arms in victory claiming to provide as much as 10 percent of the regions water needs, we also have the county water authority going up to the state water quality control board and the governor and complaining we don't need to conserve water anymore," Gonzalez said.

A private firm, Poseidon Water, built and owns the plant. The water authority has the option to purchase the facility in 10 years. In three decades, the agency will have the right to buy the plant for $1, according to the water agency.

Peter MacLaggan, Poseidon's senior vice president, said it's rewarding to see the facility doing what it was designed to do, because so many people invested so much time on the project.

"We're so happy to see the plant now fully operational, and I think it's going to change the way we look at water for decades to come in California. Obviously this will not be the last seawater desalination plant to be built in California,” MacLaggan said.

Drinking Water Starts Flowing From Carlsbad Desalination Plant