Desalination plant proceeding

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Posted: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 5:49 pm

Construction on the nation’s largest seawater desalination plant has passed the 1-year mark and officials are saying it is on track to open in 2016.

The Poseidon Resources project includes the plant in Carlsbad, a new pipeline in North County and upgrades to San Diego County Water Authority facilities. The plant will account for about one-third of all the water generated in the region, and officials hope it will help reduce reliance on imported water as part of the Water Authority’s years-long effort to diversifying its portfolio of water sources.

More than one-fourth of the project has been completed, officials say.

“We are thrilled to see this project progressing so quickly and efficiently after more than 10 years of hard work of development to bring it construction,” Carlos Riva, Poseidon’s CEO, said in a prepared statement. “We are well on our way to delivering enough high-quality drinking water to serve up to 112,000 households in San Diego County. We could not make this project possible without the help and support of the Water Authority, Kiewit Shea Desalination contractors, IDE Technologies, NRG Energy and the cities of San Marcos, Vista and Carlsbad. We sincerely appreciate the partnerships we have developed with all of these entities.”

The company says the three-year construction effort will support an estimated 2,500 jobs while infusing $350 million into the local economy.

In November 2012, the Water Authority signed a 30-year agreement to purchase at least 48,000 acre-feet of desalinated seawater each year from Poseidon, as long as it meets pre-set quality and quantity requirements. The Water Authority may purchase up to 56,000 acre-feet annually, enough to serve about 112,000 typical single-family homes.

The reverse-osmosis plant in Carlsbad will connect to the Water Authority’s aqueduct via a 10-mile pipeline through Carlsbad, Vista and San Marcos. Pipeline installation is nearing completion in San Marcos and Vista; construction in Carlsbad is under way and expected to last through 2015. In addition, the Water Authority is making about $80 million in upgrades to its own facilities so it can deliver desalinated seawater into its Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant for distribution throughout the region. In 2020, the project will meet about 7 percent of the region’s water demand.

The project is being financed with $781 million in tax-exempt construction bonds, with the rest coming from investors. Water is expected to cost between $1,849 and $2,064 per acre-foot, depending on how much is purchased.

Poseidon is proposing a similar plant in Huntington Beach.

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