Carlsbad Desal Plant Operating ‘Quarantined Employees’

By on March 24, 2020

Last week 10 workers were ‘voluntarily quarantined’ inside the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plan for three weeks to monitor the plant and conduct regular operations to maintain San Diego County’s only significant local source of drinking water.

The employees will work 12-hour shifts and sleep in rented RV’s in the parking lot. Supplies of fresh food will also be left for them at the plant’s gate and have access to the desalination plant’s kitchen and cafeteria.

While off the clock, the quarantined employees can do as they please, but they can’t leave the premises and their only contact with families will be electronic.

The shelter-in-place plan was developed fairly quickly in response to the coronavirus situation and a plan for beyond the initial 21 days is yet to be decided if it is needed.

Under normal circumstances, the Carlsbad plant operates with about 40 employees. When the call for volunteers came, more than 10 people came forward and all offered to do it “no questions asked.”

The Carlsbad plant began operating in 2015 and produces 50 million gallons of desalinated seawater a day, enough for about 400,000 people, or 10 percent of the potable water distributed by the San Diego County Water Authority.