Energy Guide: Desalination – An Innovative Solution

Written by: Natalie Ahearn

Though the Bay Area has technically been drought free since April of 2017, California has constantly been looking for new ways to improve water availability. Seeing the success of the Carlsbad desalination plant in San Diego, which has provided about 50 million gallons of fresh drinking water daily for over 400,000 people in the county, California has finally received funds to construct eight new plants throughout the state, including in the Bay Area.

The city of Antioch will be the site of one of these new plants. Since the city can only take in water from the Delta when it’s in good condition, they are looking for a new way to ensure freshwater availability. With the $34.4 million in grants awarded for new desalination plants, Antioch is receiving $10 million to upgrade their already-existing pipes and treatment plants to be able to treat brackish water, which comes from groundwater basins and rivers and contains less salt than ocean water and is therefore less expensive to treat and desalinate.

So how does desalination work? Basically, when ocean water is drawn in through underground pipes, it first goes through filters that get rid of large sediments before going through reverse osmosis, which rids the water of salt. It is then treated like regular waste-water which optimizes costs for cities because of already existing technologies.

Although Walnut Creek is not directly benefiting from new desalination technologies, it will significantly contribute to California’s water availability and with time, hopefully more inland cities in California and around the country will adopt this innovative process.

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