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KPBS Midday Edition

Carlsbad Desalination Plant's Pipeline Now Complete

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Carlsbad Desalination Plant's Pipeline Now Complete
Carlsbad Desalination Plant's Pipeline Now Complete
GUESTS: Jessica Jones, community outreach manager, Poseidon Water Erik Anderson, environment reporter, KPBS

OUR TOP STORY ON MIDDAY EDITION, AS THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO PROVES TIGHTER WATER RESTRICTIONS TO MEET UNPRECEDENTED WATER CONSERVATION GOALS I THE STATE THERE IS SOME RELIEF ON THE WAY. AT LEAST THAT IS WHAT THE SUPPORTERS OF THE POSEIDON DESALINATION PROJECT ARE TELLING US. YESTERDAY THE COMPANY COMPLETED CONNECTING PIPELINES FROM THE CARLSBAD PLANT TO HOOK UP WITH SAN DIEGO'S WATER SUPPLY. IT IS A MAJOR STEP TOWARDS MEETING THE PLANT TIMELINE OF SUPPLYING POTABLE WATER TO SAN DIEGO BY THIS FALL. JOINING ME IS JESSICA JONES, SHE IS THE COMMUNITY OUTREACH MANAGER OF POSEIDON WATER. WELCOME. THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME. ERIC ANDERSON IS ALSO HERE. HE IS KPBS IS ENVIRONMENT REPORTER. HI ERIC. MY PLEASURE. JESSICA, THE COMPANY IS CALLING YESTERDAY'S FINAL PIPE CONNECTION A MILESTONE. WAYS THAT? IT WAS A BIG MILESTONE FOR US BECAUSE ON TOP OF THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE ACTUAL DESALINATION PLANT WE HAVE BEEN WORKING FOR TWO SKIERS TO CONSTRUCT A 10 MILE DELIVERY PIPELINE THAT WILL BRING THE WATER FROM THE PLANT TO THE THREE CITIES OF CARLSBAD, VISTA IN SAN MARCUS TO CONNECT TO THE SAN DIEGO COUNTY WATER AUTHORITY'S AQUEDUCT IN SAN MARCUS. IS A HIGH-PRESSURE PIPELINE. 54 INCH. IT IS IN THE ROADWAY THE ENTIRE WAY. YESTERDAY WAS A BIG MILESTONE BECAUSE WE INSTALLED THE LAST PIECE OF PIPE FOR THIS PIPELINE. HOW MANY PIECES OF PIPE WHERE THERE? THERE WERE 2177 PIECES OF PIPE. IT HAS BEEN A -- UNDER CONSTRUCTION FOR TWO SKIERS. WE HAVE APPRECIATED THE PATIENTS ALL OF THE RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES IN THE THREE CITIES WE IMPACT OF. CAN YOU GIVE US A BACKGROUND ON THE PLANT ITSELF? THIS IS THE LARGEST DESALINATION PLANT IN THE US. ISN'T IT? IT IS. CARLSBAD PLANT IS UP ONLINE THIS FALL IT WILL BE THE LARGEST, THE MOST TECHNOLOGICALLY ADVANCED AND ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND DESALINATION PLANT IN THE NATION. THE PLANT WILL PRODUCE $50 MILLION PER DAY OF FRESH WATER FROM THE OCEAN. IT WILL SERVE ABOUT 300,000 RESIDENTS IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY AND WILL SERVE THE ENTIRE COUNTY TO THE EXISTING DELIVERY SYSTEM. WHEN WAS CONSTRUCTION ON THE PLANT STARTED? CONSTRUCTION STARTED DECEMBER 2012. IT WILL BE COMPLETED THIS FALL. JUST UNDER THREE YEARS. RIGHT NOW THE ACTUAL CONSTRUCTION OF THE FACILITIES IS ALMOST COMPLETE. WE ARE ABOUT 93% COMPLETE. WE HAVE STARTED TESTING DIFFERENT COMPONENTS OF THE DESALINATION PLANT. HOW MUCH IS THE PLANT COST? THE PLANT AND PIPELINE TOGETHER COST NEARLY $1 BILLION. THIS IS A PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP? GO IT IS. THE PLANT WAS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN POSEIDON WATER IN THE SAN DIEGO COUNTY WATER AUTHORITY. THE WATER AUTHORITY ENTERED INTO A 30 YOUR WATER PURCHASE AGREEMENT TO PURCHASE THE ENTIRE OUTPUT FROM THE PLANT. SO THEY WILL BE GETTING ALL THE WATER FROM THIS PLANT IN CARLSBAD 80 FIXED PRICE FOR 30 YEARS. LET ME ASK YOU SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW THIS PROCESS ACTUALLY WORKS. WHERE IS THE WATER BEING PULLED FROM THAT IS GOING TO BE GOING INTO THE PLANT AND BECOMING DESALINATED? THE CARLSBAD PLANT IS CO-LOCATED AT THE SCENE OF POWER STATION IN CARLSBAD RIGHT ON THE COAST. FOR WATER IN RIGHT THERE FROM [ INDISCERNIBLE ] WHICH IS FED BY THE PACIFIC OCEAN. THE WATER IS BROUGHT UP TO THE PLANT. WE PULLED 100,000,000 GALLONS A DAY OF SEAWATER IN TWO DESALINATE. WE GET 50% RECOVERY. WHAT THAT MEANS IS WE ARE ABLE TO TURN HALF OF THAT SEAWATER INTO FRESH DRINKING WATER AND THE OTHER HALF OF THE 100,000,000 GALLONS GOES BACK TO THE OCEAN DOUBLES WITH THE SALT CONTENT. BEFORE -- IT IS DISPERSED WITH OTHER SEAWATER LEAVING THE POWER PLANT THAT THERE IS NO IMPACT TO THE ENVIRONMENT. TALK ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY THAT THE SITE USES. THIS REVERSE OSMOSIS PROCESS TO PULL THE SALT OUT OF THE WATER. THE T CELL PROCESS, WE HAVE A TWO-STAGE PRETREATMENT. WE TREAT THE WATER FIRST TO MAKE SURE WE TAKE OUT ANY OF THE SILT OR DIRT OR ANY OTHER PARTICLES IN THE WATER. WE HAVE A VERY, VERY CLEAN SEAWATER. BEFORE WE PUT IT THROUGH THE REVERSE OSMOSIS MEMBRANES. THERE ARE TINY HOLES IN THE MEMBRANE. WITH THE WATERS PUSHED THROUGH THE WATER MOLECULES PASS THE SALT MOLECULES ARE JUST LARGE ENOUGH THEY ARE REJECTED. WE ARE ABLE TO TAKE ANYTHING OUT OF THE WATER. VIRUSES, BACTERIA AS WELL AS ALL OF THE SALT. AND HOW IS THE SALT -- WHERE IS THE SALT THAT IS EXTRACTED GO? THE EXTRACTED SALT GOES BACK TO THE OCEAN WITH THE REMAINING SEAWATER. OKAY. AND TELLS ONCE AGAIN HOW MUCH FRESHWATER THIS IS GOING TO ADD TO SAN DIEGO WATER SUPPLY. THIS WILL ADD $59 -- GALLONS PER DAY WHICH WILL SERVE ABOUT 300,000 PEOPLE. ERIC, LET ME BRING YOU INTO THIS CONVERSATION. PUT THIS INTO PERSPECTIVE FOR US IF YOU WOULD. WHAT DOES THE CARLSBAD DESALINATION PLANT MEAN FOR OUR REGION'S WATER SUPPLY? IN TALKING WITH THE SAN DIEGO COUNTY WATER AUTHORITY FOLKS ABOUT THIS WHAT THEY HOPE IS THAT SOMEWHERE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF 7% TO 10% OF THE REGION'S WATER SUPPLY WILL COME FROM THIS PLANT. IF YOU HAVE 10 GLASSES OF WATER MOST OF OF ONE OF THOSE GLASSES OF WATER IS PROBABLY GOING TO BE DESALINATED WATER. IT IS PART OF A LONG-TERM PLAN THAT THE WATER AUTHORITY HAS HAD TO DIVERSIFY THE SUPPLY OF WATER THEY HAVE PUT A LOT OF ENERGY INTO WATER STORAGE PROJECTS, ENERGY AND MONEY, AND ALSO INTO SECURING THIS SOURCE OF WATER. WE IMPORT SO MUCH OF THE WATER THAT WOULD GET HERE IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY. AT SOME PARTS OF THE YOU'RE UP TO 90% OF THE WATER COMES FROM ELSEWHERE. THIS WILL REPRESENT ABOUT 10%. THAT PROGRAMS DESIGNED TO ENCOURAGE CONSERVATION WHICH WILL REPRESENT VARYING PERCENTAGES THERE. AND OF COURSE THEY SIGNED THE WATER TRANSFER DEAL WITH THE IMPERIAL VALLEY WHICH BRINGS COLORADO RIVER WATER HERE. AND ALSO THEY GET WATER FROM THE CALIFORNIA WATER PROJECT WHEN THAT IS AVAILABLE. THAT CAN BE AN ISSUE THIS YEAR. AND NEXT IF THERE CONTINUES TO BE SUCH A SMALL SNOWPACK. THEY SEE IT AS A KEY PART OF THE ENTIRE WATER SUPPLY PICTURE. AND THIS IS, A LARGE PART OF THIS COMES FROM THE IDEA THAT WE SHOULD NOT BE SOLELY RELIANT ON THE METROPOLITAN WATER AUTHORITY IN LOS ANGELES. IS THE RIGHT? YES. THAT IS PART OF IT. AND IT IS KIND OF, I THINK FOR WATER MANAGERS IN THE COUNTY, IT IS AN IDEA THAT THEY WANT TO BE ABLE TO CONTROL THEIR FEET. I THINK YOU KIND OF SCENE EFFECTS OF THAT THIS YEAR. WE ARE IN THE FOURTH YEAR OF A LONG DROUGHT BUT WE HAVE REALLY NOT HAD A LOT OF WATER SUPPLY ISSUES LAKE WE DID BACK IN THE EARLY 90s. THE LAST TIME THAT WE ENDURED AN EXTENDED DROUGHT THERE WAS A PANIK TO A CERTAIN DEGREE OVER THE AVAILABILITY OF WATER. I THINK YOU SEE THE BENEFIT OF A COUPLE OF DECADES OF PLANNING, WATER SUPPLY, SECURING SUPPLIES FROM THE COLORADO RIVER AND NOW THIS IS JUST ANOTHER PIECE OF THE PUZZLE. AND OF COURSE CONSERVATION. WHEN IT DOES COME TO THE CARLSBAD DESALINATION PLANT THERE ARE INTERNAL CONCERNS. IS A RIGHT? YES. THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT ARE WORRIED THAT THE PLANT COULD POTENTIALLY HAVE A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT IMPACT. THERE IS CONCERN BECAUSE THE PLANT DRAWS WATER IN FROM THE LAGOON THAT WILL DRAW IN MARINE LIFE. THEY'RE NOT QUITE SURE WHAT THE IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT WILL BE UNTIL THE PLANT IS ACTUALLY UP AND RUNNING TO SEE EXACTLY WHAT AN IMPACT IS GOING TO BE. THERE IS ALSO CONCERN ABOUT THE BRAINY DISCHARGE, THE SALTY, EXTRA SALTY WATER THEY WILL BE DISCHARGING INTO THE OPEN OCEAN AND HOW THAT AFFECTS MARINE LIFE. THOSE QUESTIONS -- RIGHT NOW THE CONCERN, REALLY DON'T KNOW WHAT THE IMPACT IS GOING TO BE INTO THE PLANT IS UP AND RUNNING. AND THEN THE ADDITIONAL IMPACT, THE FACT THAT MAKING DESALINATED WATER FROM OCEAN WATER REQUIRES ENERGY. YOU NEED TO HAVE POWER TO PUSH THE WATER TO FORCE THAT WATER THROUGH THESE LONG CANISTERS, THE FILTERS THAT FILTER OUT THE SALT. THAT REQUIRES ENERGY. SOME PEOPLE HAVE QUESTIONED WHETHER OR NOT THAT TELL US AN IMPACT IN TERMS OF -- THAT HAS AN IMPACT IN TERMS OF THE CARBON FOOTPRINT LEFT BEHIND. IT TAKES ENORMOUS AMOUNTS OF ENERGY. SURPRISINGLY IT ONLY TAKES ABOUT 30% MORE ENERGY THAN IT TAKES TO CURRENTLY IMPORT WATER INTO THE COUNTY. HOW DO YOU MAKE THAT COMPARISON? ON THE IMPORT THE WATER INTO THE COUNTY THEY HAVE TO PUMP IT OVER THE MOUNTAINS A LONG WAY. THIS LOCAL SUPPLY, ALTHOUGH IT DOES TAKE ENERGY TWO DESALINATE SEAWATER, IT ONLY TAKES 30% MORE THAN WHAT WE ARE CURRENTLY USING TO BRING WATER INTO THE COUNTY. I KNOW THAT JUST RECENTLY, EARLIER THIS YEAR, ACTUALLY CALIFORNIA CAME OUT WITH A REGULATORY STATUTE ON HOW FUTURE DESALINATION PLANTS SHOULD BE BUILT. WHAT THEY RECOMMENDED WAS A SUBSURFACE INTAKE. I DON'T BELIEVE CARLSBAD USES THAT. IS THE RIGHT? NO. CARLSBAD IS USING THE INTAKE AND ALCOHOL THAT ARE THERE RIGHT NOW. THAT IS FROM THE ENCINO PLANT? YES. THAT IS CORRECT. IS THERE ANY CHANCE AS ENCINO IS SORT OF MODERNIZED, NOW WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A NEW GAS PLANT THERE, IT IS GOING TO BE MODERNIZED CAUGHT THAT YOU THINK ABOUT PUTTING IN THOSE SUBSURFACE INTAKE? THE REASON THEY ARE BETTER, FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND, IS THAT THE IDEA IS THAT FEWER MARINE CREATURES COULD BE TRAPPED IN THE WAY OF TAKING THE WATER FROM UNDERNEATH RATHER THAN JUST SUCKING IT IN FROM OF TALK. AS WE LOOK FORWARD TO THE DATE WHEN THE POWER PLANT IS NO LONGER USING SEAWATER FOR COOLING WE WILL HAVE TO GO BACK AND GET NEW PERMITS FOR A NEW INTAKE IN CARLSBAD. WE ARE GOING THROUGH THAT PROCESS RIGHT NOW WITH ALL OF THE REGULATORY AGENCIES AS WELL AS LOOKING AT THE FEASIBILITY OF DIFFERENT OPTIONS. WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS THIS PROJECT NEEDS TO GO THROUGH? OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF MONTHS WE WILL BE TESTING ALL OF THE DIFFERENT COMPONENTS OF THE PLANT. RIGHT NOW WE ARE TESTING THE PRETREATMENT SYSTEM, THE REVERSE OSMOSIS THAN BRAINS WILL BE INSTALLED IN WE WILL BE TESTING THOSE. ONCE WE ARE PRODUCING WATER WE WILL THEN SEND SAMPLES FROM THIS PLANT OUT OF THE LAB. THOSE RESULTS WILL GO TO THE DEPARTMENT OF DRINKING WATER AS WELL AS THE SAN DIEGO COUNTY WATER AUTHORITY. WHEN WE DECLARES WE WILL TURANOSE PUMPS ON AND START DELIVERING WATER. ., THERE IS STILL A RATHER BIG DEBATE UNDERWAY. WE JUST TOUCHED THE SURFACE OF IT ABOUT USING DESALINATION IS A WEIGHT TO PRODUCE WATER DURING A DROUGHT. CAN YOU GIVE US AN IDEA OF WHERE THAT CONVERSATION IS RIGHT NOW? I THINK WHAT YOU HAVE IS YOU HAVE PEOPLE WHO ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE TIMING A LITTLE BIT. WE ARE IN THE FOURTH YEAR OF A DROUGHT THAT HAS BEEN FELT PRETTY EXTENSIVELY IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA. SOME PEOPLE SAY ALTHOUGH THIS PLANT HAS BEEN IN THE WORKS FOR 15 YEARS, WE NEED TO POINT THAT OUT AS WELL, SOME PEOPLE WOULD SAY THIS MAY NOT BE THE BEST TIME TO DO THIS BECAUSE IT IS INEXPENSIVE SOURCE OF WATER AND CARRIES A LARGE CARBON FOOTPRINT AND THERE MAY BE SOME ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS THAT WE HAVEN'T QUITE EXPECTED OR REALIZED AT THIS POINT. THEY THINK THAT THE TIMING MIGHT BE THAT. I TALKED TO HEATHER COOLEY YESTERDAY WITH THE PACIFIC INSTITUTE ABOUT THIS AND SHE POINTED TO AUSTRALIA AS THE EXAMPLE. AUSTRALIA OF YEARS AGO SUFFERED A LONG-RUNNING DROUGHT OVER MANY YEARS. THEY CAME UP WITH A PLAN TO BUILD MAJOR DESALINATION FACILITIES AROUND THE COUNTRY AS A FUTURE WATER SUPPLY. THEY BEGAN OPERATING THOSE FACILITIES AND THEN AS THE DROUGHT CONDITIONS SUBSIDED A LITTLE BIT DECIDED IT IS STILL TOO EXPENSIVE. WE CAN GET OTHER WATER FROM A RESOURCE SO WE ARE GOING TO GO BACK TO THAT. THEY HAVE KIND OF ROLLBACK THEIR RELIANCE ON THAT DESALINATED WATER. I THINK THAT IS WHERE SOME OF THE DISCUSSION ON THIS RESTS NOW. SANTA BARBARA HERE IN CALIFORNIA HAS FREQUENTLY TALKED ABOUT IT. WHAT IS INTERESTING TO ME IS THAT I THINK THIS PLANT, THERE IS A LOT RIDING ON WHETHER OR NOT THIS PLANT WORKS. IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME IN COMING AND IF IT WORKS AS ADVERTISED I THINK IT WILL IMPACT PLANNING BY THE COUNTY WATER MANAGERS HERE IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY. IT WILL CERTAINLY HELP POSEIDON BUILD ITS CASE FOR BUILDING ITS SIMILAR SIZE FACILITY IN HUNTINGTON BEACH. AND IT MIGHT ALSO INFLUENCE PERCEPTIONS FROM OTHER CALIFORNIA COMMUNITIES WHO ARE CONSIDERING DESALINATION AS A VIABLE OPTION. AGAIN, THOSE ARE QUESTIONS THAT NOW YOU CAN KIND OF ASK THE QUESTION. WE WON'T REALLY HAVE THE ANSWER UNTIL THE PLANT HAS BEEN UP AND RUNNING FOR A LIMITED TIME. I WANT TO LEAVE IT THIS CONVERSATION ON THE COST. THAT IS THE COST TO CONSUMERS. JESSICA, WHEN THE PLANTS GOES ONLINE WILL RATEPAYERS FEEL THE COST OF THIS ONE BILLION-DOLLAR PROJECT IN THEIR WATER BILLS? WHEN THE PLANTS GOES ONLINE THIS FALL RATEPAYERS WILL SEE AN INCREASE OF ABOUT $5-$7 PER MONTH ON THE ROAD BUILT. WATER AUTHORITY IS STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THAT COST WILL BE IN EACH AREA. TO GIVE YOU AN IDEA, WHEN THE PLANT COMES ONLINE THE COST OF 1 GALLON OF WATER IS ABOUT HALF A PENNY. WE NEED TO LOOK AT WHAT IS THE COST OF NOT HAVING ANY WATER? IS PLANT IS A LOCALLY CONTROLLED RELIABLE WATER SUPPLY, NEW WATER SUPPLY THAT IS NOT DEPENDENT ON RAINFALL OR SNOWPACK. THE IMPORTANCE WATER AUTHORITY DETERMINES DIVERSIFYING THE SUPPLIES AND LOOKING AT NEW SUPPLIES IS VERY IMPORTANT. LOOK FORWARD TO DOING THAT THIS FALL WHEN WE COME ON MY. ., I THINK YOU MAKE THE POINT WHETHER THE PLANT IS BUILT THAT CAUSES GOING TO BE PART OF OUR WATER BILLS WHETHER OR NOT THE PLANT IS PRODUCING WATER. SAN DIEGO COUNTY WATER AUTHORITY SIGNED A 30 YEAR AGREEMENT. WE ARE LOCKED INTO WHAT -- FIND THAT WATER FOR 30 YEARS. IF THE PLANT GETS UP AND STARTS RUNNING THIS FALL AS EXPECTED. AND THEN ONCE THAT 30 YEAR TERM IS OVER THE SAN DIEGO COUNTY WATER AUTHORITY WILL ACTUALLY TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THE PLANT. THEY WILL BE ABLE TO CONTINUE WAY -- CONTINUE TO GENERATE WATER AND I THINK THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY THAT IF THIS WORKS EXTREMELY WELL AND IF THERE IS A DEMAND FOR THE WATER THAT THEY COULD EXPAND THE CAPACITY OF THE PLANT. I THINK I HAVE TALKED TO PETER FROM POSEIDON ABOUT THIS, IT IS WELL WITHIN THE DESIGN CAPABILITY OF THE STRUCTURE THEY BUILT THAT THEY COULD DOUBLE THE CAPACITY IF THAT WAS DEEMED TO BE A GOOD BUSINESS IDEA OR A GOOD IDEA FOR THE COUNTY. THERE IS A CHANCE THAT COULD HAPPEN AS WELL. I WANT TO THANK YOU BOTH. HAVE BEEN SPEAKING WITH JESSICA JONES, COMMUNITY OUTREACH MANAGER A POSEIDON WATER AND ERIK ANDERSON KPBS ENVIRONMENT REPORTED. THINK ABOUT. THANK YOU. MY PLEASURE.

Carlsbad Desalination Plant's Pipeline Now Complete
Poseidon Water, the builder of the plant, and the water authority announced that the last 54-inch diameter section was dropped into place in Macario Canyon in Carlsbad. The section was the 2,177th of the pipeline, which runs between Carlsbad and San Marcos.

A 10-mile pipeline that connects a desalination plant in Carlsbad to the San Diego County Water Authority's distribution system was completed Monday.

Poseidon Water, the builder of the plant, and the water authority announced that the last 54-inch diameter section was dropped into place in Macario Canyon in Carlsbad. The section was the 2,177th of the pipeline, which runs between Carlsbad and San Marcos.

The $1 billion desalination facility is expected to begin delivering water this fall, pending approval from state regulators. Once production is fully ramped up, the plant will convert seawater into around 50 million gallons a day of potable water.

"This final piece of pipe is a significant milestone for the Carlsbad Desalination Project, and a sign that the entire construction project is entering its final phase," said Peter MacLaggan, Poseidon's vice president. "We are grateful for the cooperation and support of the businesses, residents, property owners and city staff along the route in Carlsbad, Vista and San Marcos."

The plant is expected to deliver enough water to serve about 112,000 families, and meet 7 to 10 percent of the region's water demand, according to Poseidon.

Mark Weston, chairman of the water authority's board of directors, said the project "will provide a core water supply for our region day-in and day- out for decades, reducing our reliance on vulnerable imported water supplies."

"It is a critical piece of the Water Authority's long-term supply diversification strategy to enhance the reliability of the region's water supply, along with water conservation, recycling and transfers from the Imperial Valley," Weston said. "We are particularly eager to start receiving the benefits of this project given the severe drought conditions faced statewide."