Carlsbad Desalination Project: is salted water the solution?

The state of California is building a $1 billion desalination plant that will inject 50 million gallons of freshwater a day in the water system.

The State Water Project (SWP) will provide water supplies for 25 million Californians and 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland. That is the good news. In Southern California, over 90% of the consumed water is imported.

The new desalination facility reminds us of SimCity. In the city-building computer and console video game, desalinating sea water was one of the most important/expensive options to keep our urban areas watered.

Today, desalination plants are not the ultimate eco-friendly alternative to the days of drought. The daily operation of this structure is energy intensive and thus expensive.

Unfortunately, there's more. The desalination of seawater requires intake pipes, which can result in large-scale trapping of millions of marine mammals and organisms.

Surfrider says "more can be done to conserve and recycle before turning to desalination", but the Scripps Institute of Oceanography (SIO) believes desalination is the best solution to drought in California.

"The environmental effects of desalination plants have been studied for more than 20 years. In fact today, thousands of these plants are operating all over the world providing scientists with the best body of data, which is confirmed that these plants do not harm the environment," underlines Scott Jenkins, Principal Engineer at SIO.

The Carlsbad Desalination Project is expected to be completed in 2016.