Archive for the 'desalination' Category

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Right to vote on desal in Santa Cruz sails through

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“Santa Cruz voters have soundly said they want a future vote on a controversial desalination plant.

Measure P, a ballot question organized by the Right to Vote on Desal Coalition, asked voters not whether they want to approve the plant but rather whether they want a future say on plans to transform seawater into as much as 2.5 million gallons of drinking water per day. The City Council already granted citizens the right via a city ordinance to vote on the plant, but opponents were concerned a future council could overturn it.

With all 36 precincts reporting, the measure led 71 percent to 29 percent.

Rick Longinotti, a founder of Santa Cruz Desal Alternatives, said earlier on Tuesday a victory “may become clear to city officials that it will be an uphill battle” to win voter approval for the plant. He said it will indicate there are “serious questions about whether desal is the way to go.”

The city and Soquel Creek Water District are proposing to build a plant, at an estimated cost of $125 million, to protect the city from severe drought and provide more river and stream habitat or fish while resting the district’s overdrafted aquifers. Opponents seek greater conservation, water transfers and increased storage.”

Read more: Santa Cruz Sentinel


Pursuit of Desal Driving Santa Cruz Water Costs. Voters to Weigh In Nov. 6

Proposed Desalination Plant Sites and Pipeline Routes. Retrieved from:

“Santa Cruz – Overlooked by local newspapers and area media outlets, USA TODAY last month published a unique study of residential water rates over the past 12 years for water agencies nationwide with immediate implications for Santa Cruz .

The investigative report found that monthly costs at least doubled for nearly a third of the one hundred localities, including Santa Cruz where rates haven not yet peaked, largely because of the current estimated $300M cost to build a proposed regional desal plant and its infrastructure. In 2005, the City estimated the likely cost of the project at $30-$40M.

Among the ten California water agencies surveyed, Santa Cruz ranked third (113%) in increases, behind only the metropolitan San Francisco (211%) and San Diego (141%) water districts. Overall, average residential water rates nationally have risen 33% since 2000. The extensive USA TODAY survey was conducted by Raftelis Financial, the water management consulting arm of Black & Veatch.

During this same period, water consumption in Santa Cruz declined sharply by 30% amid conservation efforts coupled with reduced demand from a declining manufacturing sector. Paradoxically, the City has raised water rates four times and the trend toward higher bills continues — driven primarily by the City’s decision to pursue seawater desalination, which is strongly supported by the business and political establishment.

The City has encountered severe financial difficulties since 2006, requiring ongoing layoffs and furloughs in order to shave millions from the budget. Yet in 2008, Water Department head Bill Kocher received a 19% salary raise to $192,912. Kocher is a vocal advocate for building an expandable 2.5-4.5 million gallons per day desalination plant on the City’s west side near the growing UCSC campus.”

Read more: Indybay

Deconstructing Desal in Santa Cruz

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“Part 1: The basics of the desal debate


  • ‘Fresh-squeezed water’: Desalination debate raises financial, environmental and philosophical concerns: Laura Brown, the longtime former director of Soquel Creek Water District, is fond of repeating a quote often attributed to Mark Twain: “Whiskey is for drinking — water is for fighting over.” Read more

  • Habitat protection, planning for population growth color desalination debate: The city predicts the number of people living within its water service area could rise 10 percent by 2030 from levels seen in 2010, a quarter of which could come from increased enrollment at UC Santa Cruz. Read more

  • Water bills to skyrocket: Desalination plus capital projects equals big bucks: Water customers may want to start saving now. Ratepayers in the city of Santa Cruz and Soquel Creek Water District will pick up the tab for a $123 million regional seawater desalination plant if the controversial proposal is approved by voters and regulators in coming years. Read more“Read more: Santa Cruz Sentinel

    Desalination And You

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    “This Nov. 6, Santa Cruzans will not only cast their votes for a new president or an incumbent one, but also for local city council candidates and ballot measures. Citizens may dedicate much of their political consternation to the presidential election, but there are important decisions to be made at home, too.

    The implications run deep and the controversy runs high when it comes to one issue being raised in the local election, in particular: desalination. Because of a potentially dire water shortage in times of drought, the city is looking in the coming years to move forward with—or nix—the building of a $115 million desalination plant, says Bill Kocher, the city’s water director. The plant would be built in the City of Santa Cruz, and would hopefully be finished by 2016, says Mike Rotkin, former city councilmember and co-founder of the Sustainable Water Coalition, which advocates for conservation, water storage and water augmentation measures in Santa Cruz.

    Which of the seven city council candidates secure the four available seats (Tony Madrigal and Ryan Coonerty are terming out, and councilmembers Don Lane and Katherine Beiers’ seats are up for grabs after four-year terms) could potentially have a huge impact on how the city chooses to move forward with desalination, how much money is spent, and on which conservation and augmentation projects it will be spent on. Candidates who are elected will most likely encounter the water shortage problem during their tenure, and their positions on the desalination project or alternatives may have a huge influence over how the public and the council address water issues.”

    Read more: Santa Cruz Good Times


    Drinking water produced for first time at Victoria desalination plant

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    “The Victoria desalination plant near Melbourne from joint venture Aquasure/Thiess Degremont has started producing its first round of drinking water, as part of the commissioning process.

    The 30-year Melbourne contract was signed in 2009 by Suez subsidiary Degrémont in partnership with construction and services company Thiess, for a 450,000 m³/d capacity facility.

    Drinking water produced so far has met the specifications of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, according to the company.

    The plant is undergoing a “performance test” which requires drinking water to be produced for a number of consecutive days. During this time the water produced is returned to sea, as per the discharge water quality standards specified under the Section 30A Commissioning Approval.

    At the completion of the performance test, a further seven day “reliability test” will be undertaken and water will gradually enter the pipeline for delivery to Cardinia Reservoir.

    The quantity of production will progressively increase during commissioning over the next few months with the plant being capable of full production by the end of the year.”

    Read more: Water World


    Will Southern’s California Controversial Desalination Plant Get Off the Ground? Here’s the Last Hurdle it Faces

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    “After more than a decade spent talking about building a large-scale ocean desalination plant in Carlsbad, California, the private equity firm proposing to finance the project has one last hurdle to overcome: It needs someone to agree to buy the water.

    Poseidon Resources has put forth several iterations over the years of its proposed plant in San Diego County, expected to produce up to 50 million gallons of freshwater daily. In one attempt, Poseidon inked agreements with local water agencies claiming it could sell water at no greater cost than imported water supplies.

    But investors and members of the San Diego County Water Authority, both of whom Poseidon needs for support, balked at the claim and those agreements were scrapped.

    Read more: AlterNet



    Desal measure heads to November ballot; group narrowly collects enough signatures to qualify

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    “SANTA CRUZ- The city announced Tuesday an anti-desalination group has narrowly collected the required number of signatures to place a measure on November’s ballot asking voters whether they want a future say in building a plant.

    The Right to Vote on Desal Coalition was required to collect signatures from 15 percent of registered city voters, or 5,442 signatures. The group submitted 8,715 signatures, and the city clerk has verified 5,524 of them -an 82-vote margin equal to just 1 percent.

    The City Council will vote July 24 to certify the petition, which asks voters whether they want the right to approve a proposed $115 million facility that removes salt from seawater to produce drinking-quality water. The plant, shared with neighboring Soquel Creek Water District, would produce at least 2.5 million gallons of new supply each day if approved by the council and a host of state and federal regulators.

    But the city has already granted voters the right to weigh in.”

    Read more: Santa Cruz Sentinel

    LAFCO vote on controversial UCSC expansion delayed four months

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    “The proposal touches on long-standing local issues, including university expansion, allocation of scarce water resources, student housing and environmental preservation. But it also has top city officials and the university on the same side, with the city arguing that added campus housing would ease neighborhood problems, traffic and water consumption.

    LAFCO chair Neal Coonerty appointed a subcommittee to tweak conditions for the expansion, and another to look at future conservation efforts for the city’s water system. It postponed a final vote until October, when students return from summer break.

    “There are many people – students, community members, faculty – that are concerned with the visibility of this issue,” said Zora Raskin, a third-year student who said it should not be voted on during summer.

    At issue during Wednesday’s meeting, packed with campus activists opposed to the development of a long-planned (though not imminent) 240-acre North Campus, was a set of conditions LAFCO’s board suggested as a condition of extending the water and sewer services needed to start construction.”

    Read more: Santa Cruz Sentinel

    Saudi Arabia’s Public Desal Corporation Considers Privatization

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    “The SWCC is responsible for desalinating seawater to supply potable water to coastal and inland cities throughout the country.

    It owns and operates 30 desalination plants nationwide, and is also the second-largest electrical power producer in Saudi Arabia.

    It produces 3.5 million cubic meters of water and about 5,000 megawatts of electricity daily.

    The corporation recently unveiled a plan to privatize the kingdom’s biggest desalination plant project, at Ras al Kheir.

    Considered the largest desalination facility in the world, Ras al Kheir will produce around one million cubic meters of desalinated water and 2,400 megawatts of electricity daily.

    The corporation plans to start building the facility in the second quarter of 2013.

    Company officials say water consumers pay only 5 percent of the cost of production.

    According to Saudi officials, per capita water use in the country amounts to 330 liters per day, which is high compared to international rates.

    The SWCC’s move toward privatization is part of a growing trend in the kingdom to privatize state-owned water companies.”

    Read more: ooskanews


    Middle East Water Woes Beg for Environmental Sewage Solutions

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    “The environment is politics and in the Middle East this is ever so stark, ravaged by internal socio-religio-political conflicts and international wars. Wars internally and externally are based on oppression, division, exclusion, land theft, and expropriation of the Middle East’s oil reserves. The Middle East is the globe’s oil capital. Those who want to own it are traditional colonial powers who will do anything and promise anything from political freedom to militarisation to democracy to get at it; it’s why war and conflict still proliferate in the region.

    Easily forgotten in all the wars and conflicts are survival basic resources such as water. Water for thirst, water for industry, water for agriculture and water for sanitation. The Middle East’s oil-rich countries are able to cross-subsidise oil-money for purchases of food crops or agri-land for growing food to be imported into the region. This is neither environmentally sustainable nor economically.

    Things will run dry, monetary-wise and resource-wise, so hard rapid environmental resource conservation must dictate all immediate and future plans.

    Accessing ancient geological aquifers for stored groundwater slowed down with lack of sustainable use and management of resources. When groundwater supplies started dwindling, desalination became the next option, the primary social-water-feeder.”

    Read more: Green Prophet