Carlsbad Desalination

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 scare, and produces very safe, high-quality water suitable for drinking.

About the Carlsbad Desalination Plant and How it Affects YOU!

San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) Weighted Vote on the Carlsbad Desal Plant Water Purchase Agreement:

85% Yes 10% No


The Carlsbad Desalination Project is a 50 million gallon per day ocean water desalination plant and conveyance system being built by Poseidon Resources (Poseidon), a private investor-owned company. The project site is on industrially-zoned land near the Encina Power Station in Carlsbad. The San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) has approved an agreement to purchase between 48,000 acre-feet and 56,000 acre-feet of water produced by the Carlsbad Desalination Project.

In order to get the water to SDCWA facilities, the project will include a 10-mile, 55-inch conveyance pipeline to the Second Aqueduct in San Marcos. The SDCWA would also make a number of other improvements to its pipeline system and the Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant to integrate desalinated water into the aqueduct system, requiring improvements to a total of 15.5 miles of pipeline. The SDCWA’s improvements are expected to add $80 million for a total project cost of $984 million.

Under the water purchase agreement, SDCWA will buy 48,000 acre-feet of water from the project for 30 years with an option to purchase up to 56,000 acre-feet. This is equal to seven to eight percent of all the water used in San Diego County. The project is under construction and is poised to come online before the end of 2015. Prior to commercial operations, Poseidon is required to obtain a permit from the California Department of Public Health to deliver drinking water to the SDCWA’s aqueduct system.


Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation Industrial Environmental Association
Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce Olivenhain Water District
City of Del Mar San Diego North Economic Development Commission
City of Carlsbad San Diego County Taxpayers Association
City of Poway San Diego Union Tribune
City of San Diego Vallecitos Water District
Downtown San Diego Partnership Valley Center Water District
*abbreviated listing

Elected Officials

State Senator Joel Anderson
State Senator Christine Kehoe
State Senator Mark Wyland
Assemblyman Martin Garrick

On-Record Opposition

Otay Water District
California Coastal Protection
Network City of SD Independent Rate
Oversight Committee
Ramona Water District
San Diego Surfrider Foundation
The Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation

Facility Cost:

Poseidon Resources Plant and Pipeline Cost $691 million
Financing Cost $213 million
SDCWA Pipeline Improvements and Oversight $ 80 million
Total Capital Cost $984 Million

Best Case** Estimated Cost of Poseidon’s Desalinated Water per Acre-Foot:

48,000 Acre Feet per Year $2,290 /AF
56,000 Acre Feet per Year $2,041 /AF
2013 Wholesale Rate in AF for Imported Water from all Suppliers $1,310 /AF





** Assumes the project is finished on-budget, with no cost overruns, and with no costly changes or modification to the project’s design or operations.

Best Case Potential Per Month Rate Impact to Otay Customers in 2016:

SDCWA Desal Water Estimate $5.00 to $7.00
Otay Water District Desal Water Estimate  $8.66
Known SDCWA/MWD Wholesale Water Increases by 2016 $15.98
SDCWA Projected Total $20.98
Otay Water District Projected Total $24.64

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