Carlsbad desalination agreement to be published soon

A proposed purchase agreement for water from the Carlsbad Desalination Plant will be released to the public later in August, the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) announced after a special meeting of the board on 9 August 2012.

The release will open a 60-day public review period, and the public will be invited to provide comments at two special public meetings in September and at regularly scheduled meetings of the SDCWA’s board of directors before the board takes action on the agreement this fall.

During the two-month public review period, the SDCWA’s 24 member agencies will be offered the opportunity to purchase a portion of the desalinated water from the authority as their own local supply. Interested member agencies must notify SDCWA of their intention to purchase desalinated water as local supply during the 60-day review period.

Through the water purchase agreement with Poseidon Resources, SDCWA would bear no responsibility or liability for the seawater desalination plant. As the sole customer, the authority would purchase water produced at the plant at a predefined price. The price would also cover costs for design and construction of a new 10 mile (16 km) long pipeline needed to deliver the water into SDCWA’s existing aqueduct system.

The price per acre-foot for the desalinated seawater, plus modifications to the Water Authority’s aqueduct required to incorporate this new supply, is still being finalized, but is estimated at US$ 2,000‑2,300 per acre‑foot (US$ 1.62‑1.86/m³).

If the board approves the agreement, Poseidon would be authorized to finance the project and begin construction. The plant would produce up to 56,000 acre-feet/year (69 million m³/y) of desalinated seawater per year, enough to serve 112,000 households of four people.

“This project has been a long time coming,” said SDCWA water resources director Ken Weinberg. “Poseidon has all of its approvals in place, our due diligence is nearing completion and we’re negotiating an agreement that assigns primary risk of the project to Poseidon at the lowest possible cost to the water authority.”

Under the water purchase agreement, if Poseidon fails to perform its responsibilities to finance, construct and operate the plant within schedule, it would be subject to damages. Water quality, operations and maintenance standards are also specified.

At the end of the 30-year term, the SDCWA would have the option to purchase the plant for US$ 1.00.