Water Authority Tests For Possible Camp Pendleton Desalinization Plant

The San Diego Water Authority and Camp Pendleton approved a deal Thursday that brings them one step closer to the possibility of a water desalinization plant on the base.

The County Water Authority Board approved a $4.05 million dollar contract to build, operate and report on seawater intake options.

The tests will focus on environmental impacts of a plant, varying water quality of intake locations, seasonal water quality changes and finding the best pre-treatment systems.

The Water Authority and the base have been doing feasibility and technical studies for the desalinization project since 2007.

If the project went forward it would take at least a decade to complete. The project is still in the testing phase and no concrete plans have been made to go ahead with a plant.

“Given the long lead time for developing seawater desalination projects in California, incremental development activities such as these intake studies will maintain a potential Camp Pendleton project as a viable alternative,” said Mark Weston, chair of the Water Authority’s Board. “This research will help us understand the most environmentally friendly and economically feasible alternatives for water intakes as we consider all the other complex factors involved with securing a reliable long-term water supply for our homes and economy. While we perform these studies, we will maintain our focus on regional water conservation and supporting the development of other local supplies such as recycled water and purified water projects.”

A 2009 feasibility study by the Water Authority found Camp Pendleton to be an ideal location to integrate a new water supply for county use.

Two possible sites for a desalinization plant have been identified: one near I-5 and the other near the mouth of the Santa Margarita River. Both would have the capacity to produce between 50 and 150 million gallons of water a day.

The Water Authority is building a desalinization plant in Carlsbad. The Carlsbad plant, which opens this fall, will use existing seawater intake and discharge facilities while a Camp Pendleton plant would require new ones.

Pilot-scale facilities will be constructed during testing to allow comparison of open-ocean and subsurface intake systems.

The desalinization project is viewed by the Water Authority as a long-term water supply option, and part of the Water Authority’s multi-decade water supply diversification strategy.

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