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Why conservation beats desalination as a drought buster

To the editor: Orange County residents might be wise to see how San Diego fares before biting on Boston-based Poseidon Water's plan to replicate its $1-billion Carlsbad desalination plant in Huntington Beach. ("Backers of desalination hope Carlsbad plant will disarm critics," June 4)

The Metropolitan Water District currently provides 80% of San Diego's water at less than half the price per acre-foot of Poseidon. While Poseidon will add 7% to San Diego's water supply, the San Diego County Water Authority is locked into a 30-year contract that will increase every ratepayer's bill an average of $5 to $7 per month.

Poseidon's maximum production will be 56,000 acre-feet a year. Compare this with the MWD's $450-million turf replacement program, which will save 80,000 acre-feet per year.

Maybe someday we'll need desalination, but let San Diego be the experiment. In the meantime, conservation and reallocation measures may be all we need to weather the drought.

Eugene Mullaly, San Diego


To the editor: I was disappointed that the article does not address important issues in sufficient quantitative, or qualitative, detail.

The most important issue for me is cost. When the plant is fully operational, what is the loaded cost of a gallon of fresh water? The article does say that the billed cost of water to the user will go up $5 to $7 per month. What percentage increase does that represent?

I worry about the ecological changes that the discharge of warm brine are going to cause in the immediate area of the plant. It seems to me that it would be less disruptive to the ocean environment if the effluent were piped farther away from the shoreline.

We need more detailed information about the plant in order to feel comfortable with its implementation.

Doug Tennant, Dana Point

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