Letters to the Editor: Drought-proof California with more desalination plants

The site of the proposed Poseidon Desalination Plant in Huntington Beach on Feb. 17.
The site of the proposed Poseidon Desalination Plant in Huntington Beach on Feb. 17.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Your article on the Metropolitan Water District’s drought alert raises an interesting question: What if the water shortage in California is not caused by drought?

A drought can be defined as “a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall.” What if the lack of rain and snow is the new normal? California would have to find other sources of fresh water, and desalination of sea water is probably the best of a limited number of choices.

There are already 12 desalination plants in operation in California, and we would hope that the state already has plans in place for design, permitting and construction of many more.


Historically, the cost of desalination by reverse osmosis has been much more expensive than obtaining water from natural sources, but thanks to wind turbines and solar panels, the price of electricity, which is the major operational cost of desalination, is decreasing, whereas the cost of water from other sources is increasing.

So from a cost perspective, the transition to desalinated water may not be too difficult. What is difficult is meeting environmental concerns, such as trapping marine life in intake filters and the discharge of brine into the ocean. The adverse effects cannot be completely eliminated, but they can be reduced to an acceptable level.

Tony Hays, San Clemente


To the editor: The front page of my print edition’s California section shows a young girl washing her hands at school — with water running in the background. While I am happy that students are learning appropriate hygiene, I am concerned for our water supply.

With the current drought, all students should be taught to rinse briefly to wet the hands, turn off the water, soap up and lather for the required time (two “Happy Birthday” songs), then turn the water back on to rinse.

This is important. There are 6 million students in California public schools.

Wendy Velasco, Whittier