Carlsbad Desalination FAQ

The SDCWA estimated the impact on individual ratepayers will be $5.00 – $7.00 per month. The District, however, estimates the Carlsbad Desalination Plant will add approximately $8.66 more per month to customer water bills by 2017. In addition, customers will also be paying another $15.98 based on scheduled SDCWA and MWD pass-through rate increases, which total $24.64 per month or the equivalent of a 34.3% increase.

What is the Carlsbad Desalination Plant?

The Carlsbad Desalination Project is a 50 million-gallon-per-day, seawater desalination plant being built by Poseidon Resources. It has been in development since 1998 at the site of the Encina Power Station in Carlsbad. The project is under construction and could come online before the end of 2015. The San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) estimates that by 2020, the Carlsbad Desalination Project will provide for about 7% to 8% of water used in San Diego County. The total project cost, including conveyance and financing, is estimated to be $984 million. The project was incorporated into the SDCWA’s 2003 Water Facilities Master Plan and into the 2005 and 2010 updates to the Urban Water Management Plan.

What is the Agreement being SDCWA and Poseidon?

The SDCWA has a Water Purchase Agreement with Poseidon Resources to purchase a minimum of 48,000 acre-feet of water from the plant beginning in 2016. The agreement is for 30 years and the price will increase each year. Also included in the agreement, the SDCWA has the option to purchase up to 56,000 acre-feet per year if the need arises.

How will this Affect OWD Customers?

Does the Otay Water District Support Desalination?

While the Board expressed its strong support for desalination as a component of the region’s efforts to diversify its water supplies, improve reliability, and lessen dependence on imported water, it also felt that the preliminary cost estimates for the water from the Carlsbad Desalination Plant are too high and would place an unnecessary financial burden on Otay Water District customers. Also, given that every water agency in San Diego County is already investing in projects to improve the reliability of the region’s water supply, weighed against the price of the water, the added benefits of the Carlsbad Desalination Project may not be worth the cost.