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Carlsbad desalination plant produces 15 billion gallons of fresh water in first year

A mere year after opening, the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant is seeing enormous success in its efforts to provide water for California in the midst of the state’s multi-year drought.

Opened on Dec. 14 2015, the Carlsbad plant uses the most technologically advanced seawater desalination equipment of any plant in the nation. Pulling water from the Pacific Ocean, it met around 10 percent of San Diego County’s water demands in its first year, producing more than 15 billion gallons of fresh water.

“This plant is a game-changer for San Diego County,” said Mark Muir, chair of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “It’s gratifying that this visionary investment our region’s ratepayers strongly supported is paying dividends now, and we expect it to continue to do so for decades to come. Every drop of water we produce locally is a drop that we don’t need to import from outside the region.”

Reverse osmosis is used at the Carlsbad plant, which is then blended with water from other sources. Each gallon of drinking-quality water costs about half a cent to produce.

The plant is part of a $1 billion desalination project in the San Diego area that includes three components: the desalination plant adjacent, a 10-mile pipeline that connects to the Water Authority’s regional distribution system and and upgrades to Water Authority facilities for distributing desalinated seawater throughout the region.

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