By Jenn Stanley.
With the California drought continuing, officials are looking at a last resort option in Santa Barbara. City Council members approved a $55 million project to renovate the Charles E. Meyer Desalination Facility, which they hope could provide one-third of the city’s drinking water. According to the Los Angeles Times, the plant was built in the early 1990s during a drought, but never made it past the testing period when the rain returned.
“Desalination has been a last resort,” Mayor Helene Schneider told the Times Tuesday night after the vote. “The way the drought has continued these last four years, we are really getting at that last resort.”
There are downsides to desalination that keep it from being a preferred solution in California’s dry times. Turning to the ocean as a water source for cities is energy intensive and expensive, and the environmental costs are not entirely known.