Water Authority Board to Consider Carlsbad Desalination Contract Nov. 29

November 21, 2012

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors on Nov. 29 will consider approval of a 30-year Water Purchase…

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors on Nov. 29 will consider approval of a 30-year Water Purchase Agreement with Poseidon Resources, the private developer of a proposed seawater desalination plant in Carlsbad.

Desalination decision

• The Water Authority’s Board of Directors will discuss desalination during a special board meeting that begins at 1 p.m.

• Documents related to the desalination project, including the proposed agreement between the Water Authority and Poseidon Resources, are posted online at www.sdcwa.org/issue-desal

Board documents posted for the meeting, including a recommendation by Water Authority staff to approve the contract and related agreements, are available online here.

The draft Water Purchase Agreement was made public on Sept. 27 after nearly a year of negotiations between Water Authority staff and Poseidon. The desalination plant, which would produce 50 million gallons of fresh drinking water a day at a facility next to the Encina Power Station, has all permits necessary for construction. It would produce water by 2016 if the Water Authority board approves the deal.


The Water Purchase Agreement sets terms for securing this new, drought-proof water supply while protecting Water Authority ratepayers by assigning appropriate development and operations risks to Poseidon. The Water Authority has the option – but not the obligation — to purchase the plant for $1 after 30 years. In addition, the agency has the option – but not the obligation — to buy the plant after 10 years.

The plant would provide 48,000 to 56,000 acre-feet of desalinated seawater annually, and by 2020 it would account for an estimated 7 percent of the total regional supply or about one-third of all water generated in San Diego County. It would be the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere.

While desalinated water would initially cost more than current imported supplies, it would also be more reliable than supplies from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.  Desalinated seawater would be a local, drought-proof source to help protect the region’s $186 billion economy and 3.1 million residents from water shortages.

The project, including contract terms and costs, has been discussed at public meetings more than 30 times since July 2010; the Nov. 29 board meeting will be the eighth public meeting since the Water Purchase Agreement was released Sept. 27. Under the draft agreement, the total price for the desalinated water – including related upgrades to the Water Authority’s pipelines and treatment plant – is estimated at $2,041 to $2,290 per acre-foot in 2012 dollars, depending on how much is purchased annually.  An acre-foot is approximately 325,900 gallons, or enough to supply two typical single-family households of four for a year.

  • 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