Santa Barbara starts desalination rebuild

Work has started on the US$ 47 million replacement of a 30-year old, virtually unused desalination plant in Santa Barbara, California to make way for a new plant after the city gave the go ahead for a return to desalination as a means to address drought.

The new plant is scheduled to be open for operation by late summer, 2016. In September last year, city officials backed the reopening of the the reverse osmosis desalination plant when its main reservoir, Lake Cachuma, had fallen to 30% capacity. In summer this year the city council voted unanimously to reopen the Charles E Meyer desalination facility and approved funding of US$ 55 million to get it in operation. It will produce potable water at 3,850 Ml a year to meet about 25% of the city’s water demand at an annual cost of US$ 1.4 million.

IDE Americas was awarded the contract to reinstate the facility. In addition to the US$ 46.6 million in construction and design costs, IDE has been reported to estimate that upkeep of the facility would cost between US$ 1.5 million-US$ 4 million a year. Water bills for Santa Barbara residents are expected to rise by US$ 5-10 a customer.