Carlsbad city ups its supply from desalination on its doorstep

The city council of Carlsbad, California has agreed to sign a 30-year contract with the County Water Authority to up its annual supply from the giant Carlsbad desalination plant which began production in December 2015.

According to a report in the local newspaper, The San Diego Union-Tribune,e, the deal will up Carlsbad’s yearly off take by 3200 Ml. Under a 30-year contract with the plant signed in 2012, the Water Authority takes 60,000 Ml a year which is blended with imported water and sold to various entities in the county including Carlsbad Municipal Water District.

The Union-Tribune reported that Carlsbad council officials had said it was worth paying the high cost of the desalinated water - close to double the price of imported water - to ease its dependence on imported water and loosen mandatory cuts in consumption imposed by the state last year in a bid to tackle severe drought in the region.

The new water will not, like the water purchased under the original contract, be pumped 15 km to be added to the Water Authority’s distribution network. It will be diverted by a US$ 2.8 million facility direct to Carlsbad. This will reduce transportation costs but initially add a 60% premium to the price of the direct supplied water over the blended water according to the newspaper report.

Carlsbad has held off exercising an option to increase its take from the plant until now because of uncertainty over state Water Resources Control Board’s plans to declare desalinated water a local supply. It made the declaration in February.

That premium cost of the water is expiated to decline as the plant’s capital costs and debts are paid off and the cost of imported water increases. The desalinated water is forecast to cost less than imported water in less than 20 years.