Santa Barbara forges desalination partnership
Californian city, Santa Barbara, has agreed to discuss inviting Montecito Water District to join its desalination plant project currently under construction. Santa Barbara recently received the regulatory green light for the project.Montecito has had a long-standing interest in joining the Santa Barbara project and suspended planning on its own desalination project to leave the option open. Santa Barbara was understood to have held off negotiations to avoid compromising its bid for permit approvals from the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board or California Coastal Commission which it now has.
Santa Barbara officials have said they will shortly begin talks with Montecito about making its plant a regional facility. The city council agreed unanimously to invite Montecito to start negotiations but it has not been settled whether the tie up will be under a contract, a joint powers agreement or another form of partnership.
Santa Barbara city council members recently approved funding of US$ 55 million to get in operation, producing potable water at 3,850 Ml a year which meets about 25% of the city's water demand at an annual cost of US$ 1.4 million.
The desalination plant has the capacity to go up to 9,25o Ml a year or 12.3 Ml a year with more construction. Montecito is understood to want an annual availability of 1,850 to 2,160 Ml.
Montecito has little groundwater, so it has said it would need to use the desalination plant constantly not only during drought.
An attraction of upgrading the plan to serve the region rather than only Santa Barabara is the decease in cost per Ml as the plant size increases. another reason there's interest in making it a regional facility.