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California Focus: Desalination loses more urgency in hyper-wet winter – California

Desalination began to lose its urgency among Californians and their public officials two years ago, after the drought-busting winter of 2016-17, when heavy rain and snow ended dry conditions in most of the state.

The idea of drawing potable water from the sea became even less of a priority this year, when an autumn of record-level fires gave way to one of the state’s wettest winters on record.

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Expert cautions developing countries over water desalination plants – San Diego

A water expert is cautioning developing countries over the establishment of water desalination plants as a means of providing potable water to the populace.

Jeremy Crutchfield of the San Diego County Water Authority in the USA says desalination (the treatment of seawater through the removal of salt) is a very expensive process because of the high cost of operation including the vast amount of electricity needed to operate such plants.

Water companies would usually establish treatment plants along rivers and streams which are not salty so the processing requires fewer inputs.

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Carlsbad desalination plant will be sold to investment firm for $1 billion – California

An affiliate of Aberdeen Standard Investments has agreed to buy the Carlsbad desalination plant in Southern California for more than $1 billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

A transaction could be announced as soon as this week, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, named for a former mayor, is owned by Orion Water Partners LLC, the joint venture between Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners affiliate Poseidon.

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Cal Am desal plant gets narrow Planning Commission OK – California

Citing long-running efforts to secure a new Monterey Peninsula water supply and the state-imposed deadline for reducing unauthorized water usage, the county Planning Commission approved California American Water’s desalination plant north of Marina on Wednesday.

By a 6-4 vote, the commission backed a use permit for the proposed 6.4 million gallon per day desal plant. The plant is designed to provide about 40 percent of the Peninsula’s planned new water supply to offset the state’s Carmel River pumping cutback order set to take full effect at the end of 2021, as well as reduce pumping from the Seaside basin. The commission’s approval can be appealed to the Board of Supervisors.

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Santa Barbara Close to 2020 Renewable Energy Goal – California

With eight months left until the end of the year, the City of Santa Barbara is 8 percent shy of its goal to have half the power used by its municipal buildings come from renewable energy sources by 2020.

Since the Santa Barbara City Council committed to the goal in 2017, the city started installing three small scale solar arrays, two at fire stations and the last at the Eastside Branch Library, which began going up only this past week, said Alelia Parenteau, Energy Program supervisor at city Public Works.

More solar arrays are being designed for the Santa Barbara airport and Granada Garage.

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Oceanside takes step toward water independence with $2.6 million grant – California

Oceanside announced it will receive a $2.6 million federal grant to build two more of the wells that the city has used for more than 20 years to supply a portion of its drinking water.

The wells pump brackish water from what’s called the Mission Basin, an area near the airport, the old swap meet property and the San Luis Rey River.

The city filters the water using the same reverse osmosis process used on a much larger scale in Carlsbad to desalinate seawater.

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Bonds eyed for desalination plants – Hawaii

Legislators are considering a bill to authorize issuing special purpose revenue bonds to build and operate solar-powered saltwater desalination plants on Hawaii Island.

The measure would allow the Department of Budget and Finance to issue up to $100 million in special purpose revenue bonds to assist Trevi Systems Inc. and Kona Coast Water in bringing operational two or more plants to desalinate water using 100 percent renewable solar energy and supply it to customers on Hawaii Island, and potentially other islands as well.

Special-purpose revenue bonds allow the state to offer financing that helps private capital improvement projects considered to be in the public interest.

The bonds aren’t state funds and are instead bought by private investors.

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MIT Engineers Turn Desalination Waste into Useful Chemicals

Engineers from MIT have devised a new approach for turning desalination waste into useful chemicals.

Modern desalination processes often leave behind a lot of highly concentrated brine, which is usually disposed of by dumping it back into the sea.

This process requires costly pumping systems which have to be managed carefully to prevent damage to marine ecosystems. 

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MIT tech could let desalination plants use their own brine waste

When salt is removed from seawater in desalination plants, the byproduct is – not surprisingly – a lot of highly-concentrated salty brine.

Ordinarily, this is just dumped back into the sea, which can harm the environment. Thanks to a new treatment process, however, that brine could actually be used to desalinate more water.

Developed by a research team at MIT, the proprietary system incorporates what are described as “well-known and standard chemical processes.” These include a nano-filtration process to initially remove unwanted compounds from the brine, followed by one or more stages of electrodialysis.

As a result, the brine is converted into useful chemicals such as sodium hydroxide.

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County Water Authority Refinances Bonds for Savings of $18 Million – San Diego

The San Diego County Water Authority announced Wednesday that it has saved nearly $18 million in debt payments by refinancing the bonds used to construct part of the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant.

The savings topped prior projections of $13.6 million through June 2046, according to the Water Authority. A total of 45 investors, including J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Goldman Sachs, made nearly $2 billion in orders for the bonds.

Investors were attracted to the water authority’s strong credit and history of providing a reliable water supply, according to the agency.

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