22.07.2009 Local News No Comments

R4RD’s Study of Carlsbad Desal Costs

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 Click here for an Economist’s Comments

Executive Summary



There is much interest, but little clarity on the cost of desalinated seawater in California and how it compares to other urban water management options.

 To address this issue, this investigation collected general information along with costs and production records and cost projections for many prominent seawater desalination facilities and proposed projects in North America and California.

  Along with many others, this included Tampa Bay, Carlsbad, Santa Barbara, and Marin. These four projects are described and evaluated as case studies in this paper. 

 Seawater desalination for $800 to $1,000 per acre-foot? Or more like $2,000 to $3,000 per acre-foot?

Some advocates of seawater desalination suggest marginal costs of $800 to $1,000 per acre-foot are now possible in California. However, despite a thorough investigation, this study found no evidence of seawater desalination facilities in North America producing water in that cost range. This study also found no credible evidence that new seawater desalination projects in California, given local conditions, could produce water in that cost range.

 Given the best presently available technology, this investigation found realistic estimates of the marginal costs for seawater desalination in California will range from a minimum of about $2,000 to $3,000 or more per acre-foot of water produced.  This compares to typically much lower marginal costs of well under $1,000 per acre-foot for most urban water conservation measures.

 The Carlsbad project, at 50 MGD design capacity, is the largest presently proposed project in California and the most progressed within the permitting process. It is proposed by a private corporation, Poseidon Resources, and is subject to less cost transparency than public projects.

Since Poseidon Resources is seeking publicly subsidized funding and financing, and indicates a willingness to match the cost of existing water supply options, much interest is presently focused on the realistic cost of water produced by the proposed Carlsbad facility. This analysis evaluates the realistic cost of desalinated water for the proposed Carlsbad and other desalination facilities from which adequate cost records and projections could be obtained.

 What Will Large-Scale Seawater Desalination Realistically Cost in California?

 With limited exceptions, water agencies and private interests involved in seawater desalination appear reluctant to release verifiable marginal costs analysis for their seawater desalination projects. This has troubled many observers since marginal costs analyses form the basis of integrated water resources planning and rational decision making for water management plans and infrastructure investments.






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I doubt that “cheap desal” will ever be an operative term; there are reasons why such things are empty phrases, like “the hydrogen economy” and “secondary treatment is not a perfect process”.

The reason water is the “universal solvent” is the extreme electric potential of its covalent bonding, asymmetrical due to the famous 108 degree angle of the H-O-H molecule.  The relatively small water molecules surround and, literally, tear apart many organic and inorganic compounds that have weaker bonds.

Water is much more stable than other compounds due to the enormous energy given off in its formation:

2H2+O2=>2H2O+lots of heat energy  (that’s why creating hydrogen is so expensive).

Ex nihilo nihil fit:  There is nothing “for nothing” in nature!

Con men play on the gullible in propounding the glories of Hydrogen, whining that there aren’t enough fuel stations, for example, for this “amazing fuel”.  But to get the powerful fuel, you have to run that equation in reverse; you need to put about 60 kWh of energy into making each 35 kWh of H2, not counting compression and storage, leakage and inefficiency.

Similarly, the dream of “undoing the universal solvent”, or making fresh water out of dirty water, requires undoing a powerful force, that binding power of the asymmetrical water molecule, which defines water chemistry.  A microwave, for example, heats substances by intense vibration of the water molecule based on varying magnetic fields of that asymmetrical molecule.

About the only way to ensure pure water is the hydrologic cycle, where the sun evaporates water via heat, and the purified water vapor recondenses into rain.

The idea of using filters or chemicals to purify water is sort of like the alchemists “theory” of finding the philosophers’ stone that changes lead into gold.  Actually, it can be done, by adding 3 protons in a nuke reactor; but atom by atom and it’s incredibly dangerous — and expensive.

FILTERS are the latest scam.  Any filter is EXPENSIVE, and subject to lifespan issues.  Dirty water is pushed through the tiny pores of the filter material, which strips most of the contaminants from the H2O bond, and allows the H2O molecules to slip through the material.

But not all impurities are larger than the H2O molecule; some contaminants will slip by the filter.

See the complete argument: Click here

 Concerned about the $11 billion water bond? Sheila Kuehl provides insight into recent water legislation.

Water, Water, Everywhere, But Now We Stop and Think
by Sheila Kuehl

This is the first in a series of four essays describing the five separate pieces of water legislation recently passed by the California legislature and signed, in many public events, by the Governor.  In total, the legislation amended the oversight structure of the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta, extended water conservation mandates, set up some groundwater measurement procedures, authorized the use of funds from a past water bond and set up a new bond for voter approval next year.

In this essay, I provide an overview of some of the problems created by the legislation, and describe the bill affecting the monitoring of groundwater.  In the next essay, I will describe the bill related to the Delta governance structure.  In the third, I cover water rights and expenditures authorized from an existing bond.  In the fourth essay, I will present and analyze the proposed 11.14 billion dollar bond to be placed on the November 2, 2010 ballot.

For more information click here


Governor Calls Special Session on Water
Progress Cited in Ongoing Negotiations on Water Package

Association of California Water Agencies OUTREACH

Oct 12, 2009

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called a special session late yesterday to continue work on a far-reaching legislative package to address the Delta, water conservation and other issues.

Hours before the midnight Sunday deadline to sign or veto bills approved by the Legislature, the governor said enough progress had been made on water over the previous days to warrant a special session. He also cited that progress in moving away from an earlier pledge to veto hundreds of bills if lawmakers failed to agree on a comprehensive water package.

For more details check here:



write your sentence her

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