The article about the desalination plant in Carlsbad missed several important elements regarding the San Diego County Water Authority’s decision to pursue this water supply.
- The plant is a multi-decade investment. Its water initially will be more expensive than other supplies, but projections show it will be cheaper than supplies from the Metropolitan Water District as soon as the mid- to late-2020s.
- Energy is a major component of all major water sources and will contribute to the rising cost of every water supply in coming years.
- Desalinated water is intended to meet a portion of our supply needs as part of our overall strategy to improve reliability through diversification of water sources.
- Water shortages across the Southwest are increasingly likely due to climate change. This is not some short-term phenomenon but represents a fundamental shift for which water agencies must prepare.
- Our situation is not comparable to eastern Australia, where cities can get two to four times as much rainfall as San Diego. The Carlsbad plant and our water purchase agreement are structured such that we will always need and use what the facility produces.
There is no silver-bullet solution to building a reliable water supply in San Diego County, but seawater desalination will play an important role in a highly diversified portfolio to serve our region.
Thomas V. Wornham
The writer chairs the San Diego County Water Authority board.
What may be “a drop in the bucket” for a state with nearly 40 million souls may be seen as a lifesaver for southern Nevada.
As droughts become increasingly common in Southern California and elsewhere, Nevada may soon be begging, money in hand, to have our state build more of these desalination plants so it can have a share of our allotment of precious Colorado River water.
Steven M. Goodman