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Upgrade costs for Carlsbad desalination plant will be passed along to San Diego ratepayers

Gregory Bull
In a Wednesday, March 11, 2015 photo, worker adjusts equipment among some of the 2000 pressure vessels that will be used to convert seawater into fresh water through reverse osmosis in the western hemisphere's largest desalination plant, in Carlsbad, Calif.

Water bills in San Diego are about to go up, and that increase is due in part to planned upgrades at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Those upgrades are estimated to cost $274 million. The San Diego County Water Authority approved the upgrades to the plant’s seawater intakes at a board meeting on Thursday.

“This action by the board moves the Carlsbad Desalination Plant one step closer to meeting state marine life mandates,” said Water Authority Board Chair Mel Katz. “Staff has worked diligently to ensure that the costs are as low as possible while continuing to provide our region with a drought-proof source of water. We are thankful to have this resource when so much of the West is suffering from extreme drought, and we expect it will be increasingly valuable as climate change further disrupts California’s hydrology.”

Joshua Emerson Smith is senior environment reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune. He joined Midday Edition on Tuesday to explain what’s happening and how ratepayers will be impacted.