January 17, 2017

Desalination plan expensive and ineffective

Desalination facility at Tampa Bay FL.

Desalination facility at Tampa Bay FL.

Correction (Jan. 6, 2014): an earlier version of this article stated that running the plant just during drought years would triple the cost per acre foot of the desalinated water. In fact, it would triple the capital cost of the desalinated water, and it would more than double the full cost including both capital and operational expenses.

 

A desalination plant being planned by Bay Area water agencies, allegedly for drought-year relief, would actually increase the need for water in drought years, and would also contribute to global climate disruption.

The Bay Area’s four largest water agencies–the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), Contra Costa Water District (CCWD), San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC,) and Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD)–have been planning together since 2003 for the Bay Area Regional Desalination Project (BARDP), a large reverse-osmosis desalination plant at Mallard Slough, on Suisun Bay near Antioch. They were joined in 2010 by the Zone 7 Water Agency (Zone 7), which serves the Livermore area. Current project planning calls for a 20 million gallons per day (mgd) desalination plant, but allows for up to a 50 mgd plant, as large as the troubled Carlsbad desalination project in San Diego, the largest in the U.S.

Purportedly the project is designed primarily to provide additional water in drought years, as the Bay Area is not projected to face significant water supply problems in normal or wet years through 2040, but plans call for the plant to run every year. In a normal rainfall year, a 20 mgd plant would deliver 9 mgd to SFPUC and 5 mgd to Zone 7 for immediate consumption. The 9 mgd received by SFPUC would be used to guarantee a 9 mgd delivery to SCVWD, which is now an optional water sale. Theoretically, the remaining 6 mgd would be stored in CCWD’s Los Vaqueros Reservoir for use in dry years. (The water going into storage would be allocated among SCVWD [2.4 mgd], EBMUD [2.2 mgd], and CCWD [1.4 mgd].)

Los Vaqueros, however, has limited storage capacity. In normal and wet years, Los Vaqueros can be filled to capacity without any additional water from desalination. And so it seems that desalination would not increase the usable water in the reservoir.

In a drought year, the 20 mgd plant would continue its 9 mgd delivery to SFPUC (destined for SCVWD) and its 5 mgd delivery to Zone 7. EBMUD deliveries would increase to 3.5 mgd on average over three drought years, with SCVWD average deliveries falling to 1.6 mgd and CCWD average deliveries falling to .9 mgd. The only agency getting increased direct deliveries from the plant in a drought would be EBMUD, and the increase of 1.3 mgd represents less than 1% of EBMUD’s 2010 water demand. Without additional storage capacity, the other agencies could see a reduction in their supplies in drought years.

What about running the plant only in drought years (estimated as one in three)? This would more than double the cost per acre foot of the desalinated water. All current cost estimates for the BARDP, however, are based on continuous operation of the plant.

With sea levels rising, ocean waters are moving inland, and Bay/Delta salinity is rising. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that salinity levels in the Delta could double by 2050–exceeding the engineering specifications for the plant during much of the year, and increasing the dollar and energy costs of desalination the rest of the time. Since salinity rises in any case in drought years, the plant could be non-functional when needed most. The BARDP planning hasn’t taken these salinity increases into account.

Another problem is emission of greenhouse gases. In a normal rainfall year, the plant would produce just over 8,000 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of consuming about 900,000 gallons of gasoline. In a drought year, increased salinity would increase CO2 emissions by 25%, to just over 10,000 tonnes.

In California the energy cost of recycled water averages 325 – 1,000 kilowatt-hours per acre-foot (kwh/af). Energy use at BARDP is estimated at 3,000 – 3,500 kwh/af, up to 10 times higher. In drought years, with higher salinity, BARDP’s energy costs would rise by another 20%. In a feedback loop, more drought would increase salinity, raising CO2 emissions from the plant, making a greater contribution to global warming, and thus bringing more frequent and intense droughts.

The best and cheapest protection against drought is to reduce the amount of water that must be delivered. Water supplies designed for drought shortfalls should never be used to increase the normal-water-year baseline water deliveries, as the current BARDP plan would do. By guaranteeing water in normal years to areas facing development pressure, BARDP would increase the amount of water that must be delivered in drought years, so that the pressure on other water sources will be increased, rather than relieved.

Each water-supply source must be evaluated for energy and dollar costs, and for its effects on global warming. The current BARDP plan supplies water that comes at very high energy and dollar costs, and needs to be reconsidered or abandoned in favor of less energy-intensive water recycling, or the cheapest and least energy-consumptive alternative of all–water conservation.

Charlotte Allen, co-chair, Sierra Club Bay Chapter Water Committee

Comments

  1. I have recently started a blog, the information you offer on this web site has helped me greatly. Thank you for all of your time & work.

  2. I enjoy what you guys are usually up too. This sort of clever work and reporting! Keep up the excellent works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my personal blogroll.

  3. Hi would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using? I’m looking to start my own blog soon but I’m having a hard time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique. P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  4. I’ve been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be much more useful than ever before.

  5. Nice blog here! Also your website so much up very fast! What web host are you the usage of? Can I get your associate hyperlink on your host? I wish my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  6. Hello.This post was extremely fascinating, especially since I was looking for thoughts on this topic last couple of days.

  7. Hello there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a extraordinary job!

  8. I am really enjoying the theme/design of your blog. Do you ever run into any browser compatibility problems? A few of my blog visitors have complained about my site not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Safari. Do you have any suggestions to help fix this issue?

  9. Hello! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers? I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on. Any tips?

  10. Because he still has a couch for good friends and also a spacious bed for 2 that provides a comfortable night’s sleeping.

  11. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the page layout of your website? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or 2 images. Maybe you could space it out better?

  12. I have been exploring for a bit for any high-quality articles or weblog posts in this sort of house . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this website. Studying this info So i am satisfied to exhibit that I have an incredibly good uncanny feeling I found out just what I needed. I so much surely will make certain to do not overlook this website and provides it a glance regularly.

  13. Wonderful site. Plenty of helpful info here. I am sending it to some friends ans also sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you on your effort!

  14. I’m very happy to read this. This is the type of manual that needs to be given and not the accidental misinformation that’s at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best doc.

  15. Absolute entertaining suggestions you’ll have stated, say thanks a lot for posting.

  16. I like what you guys are usually up too. Such clever work and exposure! Keep up the terrific works guys I’ve included you guys to my personal blogroll.

  17. I’m not sure exactly why but this site is loading very slow for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my end? I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

  18. Hey, I think your website might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your website in Ie, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, awesome blog!

  19. I really desire to advise you that I am new to blogging and totally loved your write-up. More than likely I am inclined to store your blog post . You literally have stunning article information. Delight In it for expressing with us your main web page

  20. Hi there, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam feedback? If so how do you reduce it, any plugin or anything you can suggest? I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any support is very much appreciated.

  21. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this superb blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will share this website with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

  22. Hi outstanding blog! Does running a blog similar to this require a large amount of work? I have no understanding of computer programming however I was hoping to start my own blog in the near future. Anyways, should you have any recommendations or tips for new blog owners please share. I know this is off subject but I just wanted to ask. Thank you!

  23. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Many thanks!

  24. There are some fascinating time limits on this article however I don抰 know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity however I’ll take maintain opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we would like more! Added to FeedBurner as nicely

  25. Hiya! I just would like to give an enormous thumbs up for the great information you will have right here on this post. I will be coming again to your weblog for extra soon.

  26. Oh my goodness! an incredible article dude. Thanks However I’m experiencing difficulty with ur rss . Don抰 know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting an identical rss drawback? Anybody who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

  27. The subsequent time I read a weblog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I imply, I know it was my option to read, however I really thought youd have something fascinating to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about one thing that you could possibly repair if you happen to werent too busy searching for attention.

  28. This website is really a walk-by means of for the entire info you needed about this and didn抰 know who to ask. Glimpse here, and also you抣l definitely uncover it.

  29. After I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thanks!

  30. Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis.
    It will always be interesting to read through articles from other authors and practice something from their
    sites.

  31. If you would like to grow your experience simply keep visiting this web page and be updated with the most recent information posted here.

  32. Hey! I just want to give an enormous thumbs up for the nice information you’ve got right here on this post. I might be coming back to your blog for extra soon.

  33. I used to be able to find good information from your blog posts.

  34. Heya excellent blog! Does running a blog like this take a great deal of work? I’ve virtually no knowledge of coding but I had been hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyway, if you have any recommendations or techniques for new blog owners please share. I know this is off subject nevertheless I simply wanted to ask. Appreciate it!

  35. Good day! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  36. Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the pictures on this blog loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

  37. Hello there! Do you know if they make any plugins to protect against hackers? I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on. Any recommendations?

  38. Hi there just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same outcome.

  39. Whoa! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a totally different subject but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Great choice of colors!

  40. Hello! I’ve been reading your website for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the great job!

  41. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author.I will always bookmark your blog and will often come back from now on. I want to encourage continue your great job, have a nice weekend!

  42. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  43. This is the precise weblog for anybody who needs to search out out about this topic. You notice a lot its almost arduous to argue with you (not that I actually would want匟aHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Great stuff, simply great!

  44. At this time it seems like Expression Engine is the preferred blogging platform out there right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?

  45. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get three e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!

  46. Hello there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could find a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having trouble finding one? Thanks a lot!

  47. Does your site have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an email. I’ve got some ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

  48. Terrific post however , I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Bless you!

Speak Your Mind

*