Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant celebrates three years, 40 billion gallons of water

By on December 24, 2018
State Water Project provides small allocation amount

It was just three years ago that the nation’s largest, most technologically advanced and energy-efficient desalination plant came on line in Carlsbad. The plant provides San Diego County with more than 50 million gallons of high-quality, locally controlled, water every day. It is a foundational water supply for the county that helps to minimizes the region’s vulnerability to drought or other water supply emergencies.

Desalination project partners Poseidon Water and the San Diego County (SDC) Water Authority gathered recently at the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant to celebrate delivering 40 billion gallons of drought-resilient drinking water to San Diego County during the plant’s first three years of commercial operations.

“It’s incredible what we’ve accomplished in three years,” said Sandra Kerl, deputy general manager of the SDC Water Authority. “Since coming online in 2015, the Carlsbad Desalination Plant has met nearly 10 percent of the region’s water demand, and it will be a core water resource for decades to come.”

The Carlsbad Plant is a major component of the Water Authority’s multi-decade strategy to diversify the region’s water supply portfolio. It is the result of a 30-year Water Purchase Agreement between the plant’s developer and owner, Poseidon Water, and the SDC Water Authority for the production of up to 56,000 acre-feet of water per year.

“This pioneering project continues to be a shining example of innovation and a vital resource for the San Diego region,” said Poseidon Water CEO Carlos Riva. “We are proud of our role in the San Diego region and look forward to continued success and partnership with the community.”

The celebration at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant included numerous VIPs — former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer; Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall, Carlsbad Mayor Pro Tem Keith Blackburn, Council Member Priya Bhat-Patel; and representatives from the offices of California Senator Patricia Bates (R-36th District- Laguna Hills), San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn (District 5) and the California Pollution Control Financing Authority, plus other supporters.

The Carlsbad Desalination Plant occupies six acres next to the Encina Power Station on land owned by NRG, a publicly traded Fortune 200 energy company. NRG is in the process of shutting down and decommissioning the power station, and the desalination plant will convert to an independent operation over the next few years. While preparing to take over NRG’s responsibilities as the steward of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon and responsibility for its ongoing preservation, Poseidon Water is protecting and preserving the coastal environment.

The desalination plant will be the first to comply with the 2015 California Ocean Plan Amendment to advance ocean water as a reliable supplement to traditional water supplies while protecting marine life and water quality. The plant has garnered numerous accolades in its first three year including the SCD Water Authority’s recognition by the nation’s largest statewide coalition of water agencies – the Association of California Water Agencies. The plant and SDC Water Authority were recognized for innovation and excellence in water resources management with its addition of supplies from the Carlsbad Desalination Project.

“To think that three short years ago we were here for the opening of plant operations, and today we are celebrating 40 billion gallons of water delivered is truly inspiring,” said Mayor Matt Hall of Carlsbad, who serves on the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “Poseidon Water has been a remarkable partner not only by enhancing our region’s water supply reliability but also improving our regional quality of life by protecting and preserving our coastal environment.”