The largest desalination plant in the western hemisphere has started operating in Carlsbad, and will generate 50 million gallons of fresh water daily for San Diego.
This could set a new precedent for the state, as plans for 15 other desalination plants along the California coast are currently being considered.
Desalination has always taken a smaller role in California’s water generation efforts, in no small part due to the concerns about the environmental impact of concentrated brine disposal. But the experience of Australia shows those fears may be unfounded.
From 1997-2010, Australia faced the worst drought in 1,000 years. This prompted their water utilities to build six desalination plants with varying capacities, from 35 million to 120 million gallons per day. Over the past nine years of operation there has been no impact on fisheries or marine ecosystems.
Resistance to the idea of California independence usually begins with an assumption that our water issue is an insurmountable hurdle that will stop the movement in its tracks. But that’s an attitude borne out of a dependency on out of state water that we’ve allowed ourselves to be lulled into. Much like what happened in Israel and Australia, our drought has shaken us out of our complacency and forced us to solve our problems with our own resources. That’s good not just for the state of California, but also the future nation of California.