Claude ‘Bud’ Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant Earns National Award for Technology

February 23, 2017

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant has won a national award recognizing its efficient and environmentally friendly technology.

The 2017 Membrane Facility of the Year award, announced at today’s meeting of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors, was presented to the project and accepted by the Water Authority Feb. 15 at the Membrane Technology Conference & Exposition in Long Beach. The conference is held jointly by the American Membrane Technology Association and the American Water Works Association.

“We are proud of the work that went into making the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant – a crucial drought-resilient water supply for the San Diego region – as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible,” said Mark Muir, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “It’s an honor to have the AMTA and AWWA recognize our efforts.”

The Carlsbad plant uses reverse osmosis technology to separate salt and other minerals from sea water to produce fresh water. During its first year in operation, concluded in December, the Carlsbad plant produced nearly 15 billion gallons of fresh water – about 45,000 acre-feet – for the San Diego region. The plant’s reverse osmosis building contains more than 2,000 pressure vessels that house more than 16,000 reverse osmosis membranes. More than 140 energy recovery devices at the plant recycle the pressure from the reverse osmosis process, saving an estimated 146 million kilowatt-hours of energy per year and reducing the overall energy consumption of the process by 46 percent.

Energy recovery devices also reduce the plant’s carbon emissions by an estimated 42,000 metric tons each year – about equal to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 9,000 passenger vehicles.

The $1 billion desalination project is the result of a 30-year, public-private partnership between the plant’s developer and owner, Poseidon Water, and the Water Authority for the production of up to 56,000 acre-feet of water per year. It is a major component of the Water Authority’s multi-decade strategy to diversify the region’s water supply portfolio.

To learn more about the Water Authority’s achievements in diversifying the region’s water supplies, go to the Water Authority’s Enhancing Water Supply Reliability Web page at, and its desalination plant microsite at

  • The San Diego County Water Authority sustains a $268 billion regional economy and the quality of life for 3.3 million residents through a multi-decade water supply diversification plan, major infrastructure investments and forward-thinking policies that promote fiscal and environmental responsibility. A public agency created in 1944, the Water Authority delivers wholesale water supplies to 23 retail water providers, including cities, special districts and a military base.

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