Santa Barbara forced to rethink subsurface intake plan

The city of Santa Barbara has decided to rethink plans to install a subsurface ocean intake for a desalination plant expansion after a study revealed that the process would either be infeasible or inadequate.

The study found that six different proposed options for subsurface extraction were not suitable. The report found them to be unable to produce the required amount of water or had major design and construction flaws. The city council said in a report: “While none of the sub surface intake alternatives met the study’s objectives, the information developed as part of this work will provide insight into the city’s future water supply planning efforts.”

The council concluded it would have to consider “alternative supply options” including potable reuse and desalination production “outside of drought conditions.”

The city commissioned the study after protesters argued that the existing open water intakes at the Charles E Meyer desalination plant were lethal to sea life. The study was required under Santa Barbara’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.

The city based its study on an annual potable water production of 12,500 Ml. The existing plant is designed to produce about 4,000 Ml a year.