Carlsbad's Desalination Plant sits on six acres but has 15 miles of pipeline within the plant which is the length of 14 Golden Gate bridges. A pipe six feet in diameter will bring water in from the ocean, sand will be filtered out on site, and then the water will go to a reverse osmosis building. Each day, 100 million gallons of sea water will come in, 50 million will be turned into drinking water and the other 50 million will be super salty water flushed back to sea.
After one year, the project located where NRG is at 4600 Carlsbad Blvd., is 25 percent complete. "We have done more in 12 months than what was done in 12 years since it was on the shelf," said Tom Wornham, with the Water Authority who added, "we'll be less reliant on imported water, this is drought proof."
The $1 billion venture, launched in late 2012, is within budget and on schedule to start producing water in 2016.
"It's the most technologically advanced desalination plant in the country," explained John Chillemi with NRG Energy. He proudly announced, "we've had a perfect safety record during construction."
The plant has brought 2,500 jobs, (68 permanent jobs) to Carlsbad and put $350 million into the Carlsbad economy, said Mayor Matt Hall. He concluded by saying, "I can't wait till 2016 when we are back here to cut the ribbon."
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 expected to last through 2015.
“The past two dry years in California, plus the prospect of a third dry year in 2014, underscore the importance and value of investing in long-term, drought-proof water sources such as the Carlsbad Desalination Project,” said Wornham, “We are pleased with the progress to date and eager for the plant to start producing water that will help support our region’s 3.1 million residents and its $188 billion economy.”