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Water/Waste Processing e-News / Municipal

Project for California desalination facility secures funding

January 07, 2013
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Southern California may soon boast the largest U.S. desalination plant that can turn water from the sea into drinking water. The very last days of December saw the financing for the Carlsbad project fully secured, according to Poseidon Resources Incorporated, the only company in the United States that at present develops large-scale seawater desalination plants.

With the $922 million needed for the project settled with the help of the San Diego County Water Authority, the construction of the Carlsbad Desalination Plant can now go ahead. The plant will be constructed by Kiewit Shea Desalination, which is also responsible for the engineering and procurement of the facility. Israeli company IDE Technologies Ltd will be responsible for the design of the water-treatment system and will also run the facility for Poseidon under a 30-year contract.

As part of the project, a 10-mile pipeline that will deliver about 50 million gallons per day of water produced by the plant into San Diego County's water system will also be constructed, Poseidon said in a statement. It is estimated that the plant will supply water for about 7 percent of the region.

RELATED: San Diego approves landmark seawater desalination project

The Water Authority explained that the project financing included $734 million in tax-exempt bonds and private equity from Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners. Thomas Wornham, chairman of the water authority's board, commented that securing almost $1 billion in funding is a great success and marks one of the key stages of the development of the significant project. Having the funding resolved means that Poseidon Resources and Kiewit Shea Desalination can start work on the site immediately.

The Water Purchase Agreement between Poseidon and the San Diego County Water Authority states that the agency only pays provided that the delivered product meets all its stringent quality standards. This means that Poseidon should avoid obstacles such as construction delays, plant downtime, labor disputes and inefficiencies, while at the same time making sure the quality of the water supplied meets all requirements.

To minimize the risks for breaching the terms of the agreement, Poseidon has ensured it is working on the project with highly professional firms with a lot of experience in infrastructure and desalination projects and with enough resources to support accountability measures in contracts, the company pointed out in its statement.

Meanwhile, Poseidon is going ahead with its other project in progress, the Huntington Beach desalination plant, and anticipates obtaining a Coastal Development Permit from the California Coastal Commission. Similar to the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, it will also desalinate seawater using reverse osmosis. Both plants will have a capacity of 50 million gallons per day.

Poseidon chief executive officer Carlos Riva said in a statement that the company's two major projects are intended to meet increasing demand for fresh water. The Carlsbad Desalination Plant is expected to become a major contributor to San Diego County water supplies and will lay the foundations for more desalination projects not just in California but also in other parts of the country, he explained.

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