Santa Cruz pilot desalination results in 3-4 months

The Water Department of the City of Santa Cruz (SCWD), California, USA, confirmed on 23 March 2009 that its year-long seawater reverse-osmosis (SWRO) pilot plant test will be ended in mid-April with a report due in June or July 2009.

SCWD and Soquel Creek Water District (SqCWD) are investigating a supplemental source of supply to meet existing water shortages and to ensure provision of a reliable source of water during drought conditions. In 2007, the Scwd2 Task Force, which is comprised of elected officials from SCWD and SqCWD, was created to:

  • Provide direction on the investigative stage of the project (including pilot plant test program, watershed sanitary survey, intake study, permitting and environmental review);
  • Oversee public outreach activities;
  • Develop an operational plan;
  • Formulate a governance structure should the decision be made to proceed with a full-scale desalination plant.

  • The pilot project, located at the University of California Santa Cruz's Long Marine Laboratory, seeks to:

  • Demonstrate the best desalination technology
  • Test any special treatment needs
  • Provide water quality data for regulatory approval and permitting;
  • Include water quality monitoring at two locations:
    - at the pilot plant source water and
    - at the proposed intake location for the potential future full-scale seawater desalination plant.

  • The pilot project is funded through around US$ 2 million in state grants administered by the Department of Water Resources, and a US$ 611,000 grant awarded for the intake study by the State Water Resources Control Board.

    A potential full-scale desalination plant that could produce up to 2.5 MGD (9,460 m³/d) of drinking water will depend on successful completion of the pilot program, technical review of the data collected, and environmental approval and permitting. It would be part of an integrated water plan including conservation, rationing and recycled water.

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