In an effort to solve water shortage issues in the U.S. state of California, Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered key state agencies to develop a blueprint for meeting California’s 21st century water needs, to ensure safe and resilient water supplies, flood protection and healthy waterways for the state’s communities, economy and environment.
Two solutions in which composites play a significant role are wastewater purification (which was featured in CW‘s January 2020 feature “Composites help take the waste out of wastewater”) and, the focus of this report, seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination.
The problem in California is easy to understand, but difficult to solve: The original configuration of rivers, streams, lakes, bays and underground water (aquifers) in California has been reconfigured so extensively over the years to accommodate a growing population and conflicting interests that these resources cannot be relied upon to meet future water needs — even the near future.
As Groundwater Basins ‘Rest,’ Santa Barbara Looks to Reservoirs for Future Water Supplies – California
It’s been more than eight years since Lake Cachuma filled up and spilled, and groundwater basins all over Santa Barbara County are at historically low levels after being heavily pumped during the long drought.
Groundwater well pumps are off to help basins “rest,” and it will take an estimated five years for the basins to recover from the drought, water supply analyst Dakota Corey told the city’s Water Commission at Thursday’s meeting. That’s how long it took after the drought in the early 1990s, she said.
The Santa Ana Regional Water Board held a workshop on Dec. 6 on the permit renewal of Poseidon Water’s proposed Huntington Beach desalination project; the permit is on pace for a final vote in April 2020.
Poseidon Water is seeking to build a $1 billion desalination plant on a 12-acre parcel at the current AES Huntington Beach Generating Station on Newland Street. Previous permits were issued in 2006 and 2012, under which no construction took place. The proposed permit is the third generation of the discharger’s permit.
The facility would produce an average volume of 50 million gallons per day (MGD) of potable water from salt water from the Pacific Ocean through a reverse osmosis process. The plant would use the AES intake and discharge systems, but would be required to modify the systems to reduce intake and mortality to all forms of marine life before beginning operation.
With Poseidon Water’s plans for a Huntington Beach desalination plant approaching the homestretch, critics were as adamant as ever at a Friday workshop, where dozens complained the proposal is environmentally flawed, unneeded and would jack up water rates.
Approval rides on whether the board determines the drought-proof project will “use the best available site, design, technology and mitigation measures feasible to minimize the intake and mortality of all forms of marine life.”
“Hunter Water has lodged a State Significant Infrastructure application for a desalination plant at Belmont which could be used to supplement the Lower Hunter’s water supplies during times of extreme drought,” Mr Gainsford said.
Ocean water desalination, in which salt and other compounds would be removed from water in the Pacific and introduced into the water supply for drinking and other potential uses, could have numerous potential benefits, West Basin said, including “reducing reliance on imported water, improving water security through increased local control of water supplies,” and “improving climate resiliency” by providing a water source that is not dependent on the shifting volume of rain and snow that arrives each year.
Opponents, however, have said that the project poses significant environmental issues. The desalination process is energy-intensive, even more so than carrying imported water hundreds of miles from other parts of the state.
An engineering firm advising the South Coast Water District on its proposed Doheny desalination project was summoned Thursday, Nov. 14, to explain how officials might mitigate the risks of using a relatively-new drilling method to siphon seawater from beneath the ocean floor.
Brian Villalobos, principal geohyrdrologist for GEOSCIENCE Support Services, told the SCWD Board of Directors that drilling slant wells, rather than vertical or horizontal wells, off Doheny State Beach is ideal because of the dynamic hydrological and environmental conditions. Villalobos said alternatives to the proposed project would have a greater impact on San Juan Creek’s lagoon and stream flow.