FAQs

Where does San Diego County get its drinking water today?

A single supplier, the San Diego County Water Authority, imports up to 90% of the region's water from the Colorado River and Northern California. The rest comes from groundwater, local surface water, recycled water, conservation and other sources.

Why is seawater desalination better than importing water or relying on other supplies of water?

The Pacific Ocean represents the ultimate drought-proof resource. A desalination project will provide San Diego County water agencies complete control of a local drinking water supply that is not dependent on rainfall or outside suppliers. Diversification and local control are essential to good planning and self-sustainability. That is why the San Diego County Water Authority has declared desalination to be its "preferred alternative" to diversify its drinking water supplies.

What impact will desalination have on our long-term water supply?

When complete in 2016, the Carlsbad facility will provide up to 50 million gallons per day of safe, sustainable, environmentally benign, drought-proof drinking water. It will offset some of the need for imported water and would provide as much as 10% of the region's drinking water, alleviating demand on the traditional sources, and contributing to the regional supply.

Where will the Carlsbad project be located?

The project will be built in an existing industrially-zoned site adjacent to the Encina Power Station on the coast in Carlsbad, California, approximately 35 miles north of San Diego.

What is Poseidon's relationship with the Encina Power Station?

Poseidon Water is an independent company but has entered into a 60-year lease on the project site with NRG West, the owner and operator of the power station.

How will San Diego County benefit from the project?

In addition to having a new source of water that is drought-proof, locally controlled and reduces dependence on water imported from Northern California and the Colorado River, the project benefits include 2,500 direct and induced jobs and an economic impact of an estimated $350 million that construction of the project will provide over a two-year period. When completed, the project will have 18 full-time employees, support 500 direct, indirect and induced jobs, and contribute $50 million in estimated annual spending to the county's economy.

How long will it be until the facility is fully operational?

Build-out will take approximately three years with completion expected in 2016.

Will city or state tax dollars be used for this project?

No, taxpayers and ratepayers are not at risk. Poseidon has funded the project through the capital markets and has contributed equity to the project. Private investors assumed the majority of the risks associated with the project including permitting, designing, building and operating the facility.

Will the project cause growth in the region?

No. Growth in San Diego County and throughout Southern California will occur in accordance with existing and new land use policies. SANDAG has already projected that the county's population will grow by one million by 2030, with most of that occurring from births rather than in-migration. This project will help meet their needs and compensate for the expected cutbacks of supply from Northern California and the Colorado River.

How much water will the project provide?

The Plant is designed to produce 50 million gallons per day (mgd) - enough for 300,000 people.

Will the desalinated water taste different?

More than 1,200 decision-makers and stakeholders have toured the pilot plant and sampled the product. More than 99 percent of respondents rated the desalinated water taste as either Excellent or Good, with 83.9 percent ranking it as Excellent.

What state agency will provide oversight to ensure a safe, reliable drinking water supply for San Diego County consumers?

The California Department of Health Services (DHS), which on October 19, 2006, issued its preliminary approval for the Carlsbad Desalination Project to produce drinking water.

Artist's rendering

Will the facility be an eyesore?

No. The project will be two-stories high. It will replace an old storage tank that is higher than the new structure.

If the Encina Power Station were to close, how would the project be affected?

Encina is presently a "must-run" facility and an important element of the power supply network in San Diego county. In the event that the power plant was to close, Poseidon has acquired the first right to use the power station intake and outfall facilities, to continue full operations for up to 60 years. The desalination plant would not be significantly affected if current operating conditions at the power plant were to change. Poseidon and the City of Carlsbad have always anticipated that the desalination plant would eventually outlive the Power Plant. The City took the initiative during the environmental review process to extensively study the desalination plant's impact to the environment under the scenario where the power plant is not operating. The City’s

certified EIR concluded that the desalination plant can operate without significant impacts to marine life. Regardless of if, or when, the sea water-cooled power plant is decommissioned, operational restrictions and monitoring and reporting requirements to ensure there are an abundance of water quality and marine ecosystem protections are in place.

Why don't cities and water districts develop their own desalination projects instead of relying on a private company?

Because development of major projects require significant upfront capital investment and entail significant permitting challenges, a number of municipalities are forming public-private partnerships. The Carlsbad project was developed, financed and constructed at no expense to local water agencies or any other governmental entity. This partnership allows the public entities to access the capital and project expertise brought in by Poseidon without incurring any financial risk. It is the epitome of a win-win solution to a critical need for a reliable, long-term drinking water supply.