Desalination – A Salty Matter for California

desalinationCalifornia’s major drought has set the stage for San Diego Water Authority  to construct a giant desalination  plant for residents living in San Diego County. Al Jazeera News records this plant being the largest in the Western Hemisphere.

The discussion of de-salting water has increased amidst California’s drought. Factors such cost and effectiveness are debated . San Diego County’s approach of building the plant as a supplement to water supply, rather than a substitute, is unique. This supplement is reported to cover between 7 & 10 percent of the county’s water demand. Even though the new water source covers up to 10%, 100%  of the county’s residents will have to pay extra dues on their water bills to cover the cost of the plant.

Alternatives to desalination, such as water recycling, have already been implemented in many places and is being considered for expansion. Public opinion resist recycling; it is unpopular to drink water from sources that were considered not-drinkable, even if cleaned and made safe.

Time plays the biggest role in considering desalination in California. No one knows when the drought will end. If millions of dollars are spent to build a desalination plant, and rains return, it takes away the purpose of such plant until another drought returns, which also remains unknown.

One may think that desalination for a State that borders the Pacific Ocean a no-brainier. But on closer look, its a complex decision for any municipality to undertake.