Ocean water desalination is a process that removes salts and other impurities from seawater. It is used in many areas of the world where fresh water is scarce and produces very safe, high-quality water suitable for drinking.
With technological advances, ocean water desalination represents a new, safe, and drought-proof water supply, reducing the San Diego region’s over-reliance on imported water from the Colorado River and Northern California. As part of the diversification strategy to increase local water available to the region, the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, in operation since 2015, is currently providing high-quality drinking water to Otay customers. Also if approved, the Otay Mesa Conveyance and Disinfection System Project would allow Otay to convey desalinated seawater, produced in Rosarito, from the border to Otay’s facilities, meeting up to two-thirds of Otay’s projected water use by 2024.
Future desalination facilities will likely use reverse osmosis technology, now regarded as the most efficient and cost-effective desalination process. Reverse osmosis uses high pressure pumps to force seawater through semi-permeable membranes. This process separates salts, minerals, and other impurities leaving only very high-quality fresh drinking water.