The San Diego County Water Authority today was recognized by the nation’s largest statewide coalition of water agencies for innovation and excellence in water resources management with its addition of supplies from the Carlsbad Desalination Project.
The 2017 Clair A. Hill Water Agency Award for Excellence, presented at today’s Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Spring Conference in Monterey, has been awarded annually since 1988 to exemplary programs developed by ACWA member agencies for managing and protecting water supplies in California. As this year’s award winner, the Water Authority will have the honor of selecting three finalists for the next annual recipient of the $5,000 Clair A. Hill scholarship, awarded to college students in a water-resources related field of study and funded by the engineering firm CH2M. The award and scholarship program were named after one of CH2M’s founding members.
“We appreciate ACWA’s recognition of how we’ve added a new dimension to our region’s water supply reliability,” said Mark Muir, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “Many years went into planning for the desalination project, and we hope to serve as a model for how visionary thinking and prudent investments in local supply projects, combined with continued promotion of water-use efficiency, can help our communities and state secure future water-supply reliability.”
The desalination project includes the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, which produces approximately 50 million gallons of drinking water daily, and a new 10-mile pipeline and other improvements to the Water Authority’s infrastructure to integrate the desalinated seawater into the regional water supply. It supports a key directive of Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2014 Water Action Plan, which called for water agencies around the state to reduce demand for imported water. An early reminder of the plant’s value to the region came shortly after commercial operations began as its new drought-proof, locally controlled water supplies helped reduce and eventually eliminate state-mandated water-saving targets during the height of the drought in 2016. The plant has contributed to statewide efforts to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, and gained notice from ACWA as the first major infrastructure project in California to eliminate its carbon footprint.
“San Diego County Water Authority’s Carlsbad Desalination Project is an example of the creative ingenuity local agencies across California are displaying as they work to bolster local water supplies,” said ACWA President Kathleen Tiegs. “The project re-engineered the way water is delivered, all on a scale that has never been accomplished in the United States.”
Completed in December 2015, the plant is the result of a public-private partnership between the plant’s developer and owner, Poseidon Water, and the Water Authority. The Water Authority purchases up to 56,000 acre-feet of water from the plant per year – enough to serve approximately 400,000 people annually. It’s now a major component of the Water Authority’s multi-decade strategy to diversify the region’s water supply portfolio.
To learn more about the Carlsbad Desalination Project, go to carlsbaddesal.sdcwa.org. For more information about the Water Authority’s advances in diversifying the region’s water supplies, go to www.sdcwa.org/enhancing-water-supply-reliability.
To read ACWA’s news release about the award, go to www.acwa.com/news/water-supply-challenges/acwa-honors-san-diego-county-water-authority-2017-clair-hill-agency-awa.