San Luis county pledges US$ 900,000 for plans tap into nuclear plant desalination

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has committed US$ 900,000 to planning and permitting for a proposal to expand Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant’s reverse osmosis desalination plant to supply South County residents.

The project is expected to take at least two years to complete and cost up to US$ 36.4 million according to a county staff report. The water would be used in the Five Cities and Avila Beach areas. The cost of building and operating the pipeline would be paid from customers’ bills according reports in local newspapers.

Diablo Canyon is licensed to produce about 4.5 Ml/d but only produces about 40% of that. Pacific Gas & Electric, which owns Diablo Canyon Power Plant, supports the proposal to sell its excess water to South County service providers.

The water from the desalination plant would be used by the cities of Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach and the Oceano and Avila Beach community services districts. All of them have indicated interest in the project but are yet to make a formal commitment.

The South County is facing an impending water crisis. The area’s main water source is Lopez Lake, which is only 30% full while its groundwater basin is dropping and is in danger of saltwater intrusion. And the drought Deliveries from the State Water Project have been unreliable in recent years because of the drought.