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Water/Waste Processing e-News / Drinking Water

Santa Barbara ponders reactivating desalination plant

June 17, 2014
KEYWORDS desalination
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Santa Barbara, California<photocredit>stw_15/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock</photocredit>

The city of Santa Barbara, California, is considering a huge investment that would bring an inactive desalination plant back into action, in an attempt to relieve the consequences of the ongoing drought.

According to NBC News, the Charles Meyer Desalination Plant, which has been out of use for two decades, might be restarted. Officials estimate that it could provide up to 3,000 acre-feet of drinking water annually. The city uses about 14,000 acre-feet of water per year, said Joshua Haggmark, acting water resources manager in Santa Barbara.

Currently, the facility is being prepared for refurbishment and for being restarted. But even though the building already exists and desalination technology has already been used at the Charles Meyer Plant, rebooting operations will cost the city a lot. Haggmark estimated that restarting the facility will cost the city no less than $20 million in capital costs, with an extra $5 million needed for operating costs on an annual basis.

In order to cut costs, the city is also looking at the option to keep the desalination plant operating at a very limited capacity, once it has been relaunched, and increase its production only should the need for that arise, Haggmark told NBC News.

The project may result in higher water costs for consumers but, according to Haggmark, higher water costs are "the new norm," especially in areas that have been hit hard by drought, such as California.

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