There’s a reason why arguments over the merits of the Carlsbad Desalination Project are ongoing. At least three new desalination projects are in the works in the region. The perceived success or failure of the Carlsbad plant could tip the scales for those projects, which will face regulatory hurdles and legal challenges of their own.
The country’s largest desalination plant is in the ground at Carlsbad and its water is in our pipes, but the debate over whether it was a wise or economical investment continues.
The ability to turn salty ocean water into drinking water creates a dependable water supply for 3 million people in San Diego County. Even without a drought continuing across California, the ability to constantly sip from the ocean seems like an obvious plus.
There are downsides, though: The desalination process is energy-intensive and its water is currently far more expensive than our other water supplies. The San Diego County Water Authority has committed to buying water from the plant’s private developer and owner for three decades, whether the water is needed or not.
Recently, the debate has continued here in our opinion section.