The $320 million desalination plant planned for Carlsbad, California was approved earlier this week, making it a prime opportunity to test out how desalination might work as a way forward through the water issues the state faces. The New York Times reports:
The plant, to be built near Carlsbad, north of San Diego, will be the first large-scale desalination operation on the West Coast and the largest in the hemisphere. "If they build it well and it operates well and the price is right, we will see more," said Peter Gleick, the cofounder and president of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, Calif.
"I think there's going to be some hesitancy to really expand desalination until this plant is up and running," he added. "There's going to be hesitancy on the part of everyone -- regulators, water agencies and municipalities."
The hesitancies come from the unknown factors involved in desalination. The process is energy intensive, and the benefits might not outweigh the burden not only on energy needs, and the ecological impact of pumping 100 million gallons of water a day from the ocean, turning it into 50 million gallons of drinkable water, then spitting large amounts of brine back out into the sea.
Because desalination is not a very widely tested possibility for drinking water, especially on this large of a scale, the plan is highly controversial, with Surfrider fighting hard against it. It's definitely one to keep a very close eye on from all aspects.
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