News | March 16, 2016

Desal Investment Eases San Diego's Water Cuts

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

After months of lobbying, San Diego is getting a break on water conservation requirements imposed by California regulators.

“In response to the recently launched Poseidon desalination plant in Carlsbad, state officials have agreed to dramatically ease water conservation goals in San Diego for almost all residential water users. The adjustments will nearly cut in half required water savings throughout the region, the San Diego County Water Authority announced [in March],” The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

“State officials certified the San Diego region's billion-dollar desalination plant as a drought resilient water supply. That plant in Carlsbad turns seawater into 50 million gallons of drinking water each day. State recognition means the region's mandatory water cutbacks are being eased from 20 percent, to about 13 percent,” KPBS reported.

Bob Yamada of the San Diego County Water Authority weighed in, per the report.

"Now the regulation acknowledges that we in San Diego County have invested in a drought resilient supply that does help us in providing that reliable water supply," he said.

The San Diego County Water Authority worked hard to fight the one-size-fits-all water cuts imposed across the state last year. Officials argued that this approach to conservation failed to acknowledge the investments the county had made in desalination.

“The County Water Authority [had] been lobbying against the governor’s water conservation mandate, even though state officials [had been] looking to lock in the water savings so that Californians don’t backpedal and find themselves unprepared for yet another drought,” Voices of San Diego reported.

Officials from the county water authority argued in a January letter to the state that a “statewide, one-size-fits-all regulatory approach to managing droughts should not be used as a model for future long-term or emergency conservation regulations. Drought response actions, such as conservation mandates, should be determined at the local level, and the availability of drought-resilient supplies must be factored into the regulation on a regional or county basis.”

The biggest desalination plant in the U.S. opened in San Diego in December. With the ceremonial opening “of the Western Hemisphere's largest ocean desalination plant, a new era began for water use in San Diego County — and possibly for the entire parched state,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

All of our coverage on the Carlsbad desalination plant can be found at Water Online’s Desalination Solutions Center.