Marin County, Calif., Water Board OKs Desalination Plant

Aug. 20, 2009
Water district believes desalination is the best way to handle projected population growth

Marin County, Calif.'s largest water utility recently voted to build a desalination plant that will convert about 5 million gal of seawater into drinking water, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The plant will serve approximately 190,000 people.

The board voted in favor of the plant 4-0, despite vocal opposition at the meeting, which was attended by about 200 people.

While environmental advocacy groups opposed the plant, the district contends desalination is the best way to satisfy projected population and economic growth.

"We're concerned about bringing supply and demand into balance," Hal Brown, president of the Marin County Board of Supervisors, said at the meeting.

Water managers across California, now in its third year of drought, are struggling to find new water supplies while figuring out how to encourage conservation.

Marin County predicts that the new facility will provide a backup plan against longer dry spells in the future.

Options in dry periods in the past, such as building emergency pipelines negotiating for more water from the Russian River, are no longer available, according to water managers.

The plant, planned for a seven-acre shoreline plot in San Rafael, is projected to cost about $105 million and would cost $3 million to $4 million annually to operate, the newspaper reported. The district said it would fund the project using local bonds and a $3 to $5 increase in monthly water bills.

The plant would be up and running by 2014 at the earliest.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle