Water Authority Approves Desal Plant Planning Agreement with Marine Corps

April 23, 2010

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton approved a Memorandum of Understanding…

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton approved a Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies today, which provides a framework for on-site preliminary studies that will determine the feasibility of building a major regional seawater desalination facility at Camp Pendleton.

The agreement sets terms and conditions for the Water Authority to conduct offshore and onshore technical studies and will provide a framework for Camp Pendleton to evaluate whether a desalination facility would adversely impact military training, the environment, or the quality of life of Camp Pendleton residents.  The studies will enable the Water Authority to evaluate the feasibility and cost of building and operating a seawater desalination plant on the base capable of producing 50 million gallons or more of drinking water daily. The MOU does not obligate either party beyond the study phase.

“Our current water shortage sharply reinforces the fact we not only have to carefully manage our current water resources, but that we must continue to pursue a strategic vision for securing additional supplies to meet our region’s needs in the future,” said Maureen Stapleton, Water Authority General Manager. “Seawater desalination is an important part of the Water Authority’s long-term strategy to increase the region’s water supply reliability through diversifying our portfolio of local and imported water resources.

“This agreement will help us conduct the research necessary to determine whether a desalination facility at Camp Pendleton fits our strategy, without impacting on Camp Pendleton’s primary mission, and we greatly appreciate the Marine Corps’ support and cooperation to help us move forward.”

In 2005, the Water Authority Board established a goal to develop 89,000 acre-feet of desalinated seawater – enough to meet approximately 10 percent of the region’s projected 2020 water supply needs. The scheduled completion of the privately developed Carlsbad seawater desalination project in 2012 will meet 56,000 acre-feet of that goal.  The Water Authority’s Urban Water Management Plan determined that the remaining 33,000 acre-feet could come from a new project at Camp Pendleton.

Two potential sites for the plant, both in the southwest corner of the base near the mouth of the Santa Margarita River, were reviewed as part of a feasibility study in 2009. That Water Authority study identified Camp Pendleton as a desirable location for several reasons:

    “¢    The location has the potential availability of a coastal site large enough to accommodate a large-scale, expandable facility;

    “¢     A plant at Camp Pendleton could produce between 50 million and 150 million gallons per day, or 56,000 to 168,000 acre-feet annually;

    “¢    A facility at the north end of the Water Authority’s regional aqueduct system also would allow for more extensive and efficient distribution of the desalinated water.

The Camp Pendleton seawater desalination studies, along with similar studies planned or under way for potential sites in Baja California, will be used in the development of a 2012 Regional Water Facilities Master Plan.  The Water Authority will use the plan to determine the need for additional seawater desalination, compare it against other supply alternatives, and recommend projects for inclusion in its capital improvement program in order to meet future water supply reliability needs for San Diego County.

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  • 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.

    Media Contact Information

    Grace Sevilla

    Phone: (619) 855-5135

    Email: GSevilla@sdcwa.org