Marin County poll shows support for desalination

Opinion poll results released on 9 July 2009 by Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) in California, USA, showed 58% of consumers would support a desalination option in a multi-pronged approach to the district’s future water supply. This rose to 68% when more information was provided.

Before considering the approval of a desalination project and filing a notice of determination, MMWD is analysing the impacts of climate change on water supplies and demand in Marin County. Climate researchers predict that droughts will be longer and more intense in the future, and the district is determining how best to incorporate these predictions into its planning scenarios.

The MMWD board voted in February 2009 to accept an environmental impact report on a possible desalination plant (see D&WR technical article August/September 2008). A 5 MGD (19,000 m³/d) desalination plant would cost US$ 105 million to build. It would be expandable to 15 MGD (57,000 m³/d).

MMWD will also consider the results of an analysis of potential additional savings that might be achieved by water conservation programs beyond its current planned investment of $44 million in conservation activities between now and 2025. This is currently being analysed by consultant Maddaus Water Management.

The new survey results indicate that the vast majority believes that there is a water supply problem in Marin. Long-term water supply ranked higher in importance than traffic or jobs: 79% indicated that the long-term supply of water is a problem. A majority was also against abstracting further surface water supplies from the Russian river.