City leaders vote to team up with power firm in desalination plan

California’s San Luis Obispo County board of supervisors has voted to partner with energy firm, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), to develop one of the company’s desalination plants to supply the Five Cities and Avila Beach areas.

PG&E currently operates a desalination plant alongside its Diablo Canyon power plant. The plant is licensed to produce desalinated water at about 4.5 Ml/d but it produces only about 40% of that. The two-year proposed project is to build a 10-km pipeline at a forecast cost of about US$ 11 million to move water from the Diablo Canyon plant to the region’s distribution system.

The board of supervisors recently voted to commit US$ 900,000 to planning and permitting for the proposal.

Concern has been growing in the region after it emerged that water levels at it chief supply source, Lopez Lake reservoir, remained low despite recent rains.

The county is also supplied by groundwater and the State Water Project.  But saltwater intrusion at the Santa Maria groundwater basin has forced water retailers to rein in their pumping to less than a third of their allied volumes.

The planning phase for the project will include an environmental impact report, technical engineering support, regulatory consultation and application for coastal permits.


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