California is entering its fourth year of a record-breaking drought, creating an extremely thirsty landscape according to CBS News. California has teamed up with a company called Poseidon Water to build a desalination plant. They are in the final stages of opening in Huntington Beach California.
Fifty million gallons of water will be taken out of the ocean every day and put into a machine that takes salt out of the water, making it clean drinking water. This process is called reverse osmosis.
Claiming the desalination plant will create over 2,000 jobs during construction, 18 permanent jobs and 322 indirect jobs once the plant is open. Along with several hundred million dollars in economic stimulus over the facility Poseidon is confident that the plant has much potential for the region. .
“Desalination is a concept and a technology on which California must begin to rely.” Richard Polanco Assemblyman said. [D – Los Angeles]
The water company put out a report showing how the process will works, how environmentally safe it is and how it will be no cost for tax payers.
Countries in the Middle East have been successfully using desalination for years now and it has always worked.
While some believe that this is a solution to California’s drought problem, others believe that this can make things worse. According to Vice News there are environmentalists who are convinced that sucking mass amounts of seawater and expelling much saltier water will kill marine life. There is concern that the power being used will release more planet warming carbon emissions.
“I’ve dedicated my professional life to working on climate change,” Jason Burnett, the mayor of Carmel said. “My family is very dedicated to the health of our oceans. So here I am advocating a project that has a large carbon footprint, and, if not done correctly, can hurt the oceans.”
Poseidon said it will help restore trees and wetlands nearby and carbon footprint will eventually be eliminated.
“It’s effective in some regions where there’s a need,” Heather Cooley said, who is the water program director at the Pacific Institute, an Oakland based environmental think tank. “But we need to fully recognize what the opportunities are, what the relatives cost and environmental impacts are and do the most cost-effective things first.”
An information officer for the California Department of Water Resources the state has provided $40 million over the past decade to local governments who support the desalination plant, but the economics of the desalination process is more complicated for bigger communities.
“Being human there is pretty much nothing that we can do that won’t affect the environment,” James Repka said, chair of the oceanography department. “What you have to consider with something like this is cost. Is it going to outweigh the benefits, we need a lot of water and it will become more expensive with water running out.”
Poseidon said the bottom line is the proposed water treatment facility is needed and because of the existing feed water and outfall infrastructure the Huntington Beach Generating Station is the best location in Orange County for a desalination facility.