DWR releases draft funding awards for fourth round of Proposition 1 desalination grants

Eight desalination projects have been recommended for funding to receive a combined total of $34.4 million from the state Department of water resources. Contrary to the public perception of desalination only one of the projects will utilize ocean water. Six of the winning proposals will be working with brackish desalination – salty water found in a bay, river or underground aquifer – and the eighth winning proposal is a research pilot at the University of Southern California (USC).

“Desalination can play an important role in California’s water future,” said Richard Mills, water recycling and desalination chief for the state Department of Water Resources.

The funding awards span four categories: construction, design pilot, feasibility student and research pilot. Within the construction category three projects have been identified as winners. The city of Antioch is slated to receive $10,000,000 for their Brackish Water Desalination Project; the total project cost is anticipated to be $62,217,732. The city of Camarillo is to receive $10,000,000 of a total project cost of $31,930,663 for their North Pleasant Valley Desalter. The South Coast Water District, based in Laguna Beach, is also to receive $10,000,000 for the Doheny Ocean Desalination Phase 1 Project. The total cost for the project is expected to be $107,108,400.

South Coast Water District has shared that they currently import 85 to 100 percent of its drinking water, causing vulnerability during droughts, supply shortages and potentially during natural disasters. If the district completes its desalination project, in five years desalinated water could provide 75 percent of the district’s supply while dramatically reducing our imported water reliance to only five percent. The remaining water to meet the district’s needs would come from an increase in groundwater recovery.

The two recipients in the design pilot category are Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) in Perris and Olivenhain Municipal Water District (OMWD) in Encinitas. EMWD’s Enhanced Brine Concentration Design Pilot Project is to cost $ $5,965,078 which be offset by the DWR grant funds of $1,500,000. OMWD’s San Dieguito Valley Brackish Groundwater Desalination Design Pilot will be receiving $650,000 to help fund the project’s total cost of $1,340,856.

The projects within the feasibility study category that are targeted to receive assistance from DWR are the Indian Wells Valley Water District (IWVWD) and the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRDSC). The Indian Wells Valley Brackish Groundwater Feasibility Study will see slightly more than three-quarters of the study’s cost — $1,083,984 as grant of $503,490gain the total project cost of $1,518,389. WRDSC is to receive half of the cost of the project from DWR — $700,000 against a total project cost of $1,400,000 for their Feasibility Study for the West Coast Basin Brackish Water Reclamation Project.

The sole recipient in the research pilot category is USC. Their System Configurations and Cooling Technologies for Waste-Heat-Driven Membrane Distillation in Desalination Applications with High Water Recovery. The project’s total cost of $1,007,852 will be off-set by DWR’s grant funds of $503,490.

A meeting for the public to receive comments on the draft funding recommendations will be held on February 5, 2018 at Metropolitan Water District’s headquarters at 700 North Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA.

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