As the dust from the latest California drought continues to settle, water agencies are taking a step back to look at what they can do the next time a dry spell hits the state.

Desalination is often floated as a drought-proof method of making sure water keeps flowing, even in the driest of years. But turning salty ocean water into drinking water is expensive, takes a lot of energy and can hurt coastal habitat.

VOSD’s Ry Rivard uses Southern California’s unusually wet winter to gauge how attitudes toward desalination have shifted.

Poseidon Water, which built the desalination plant in Carlsbad, wants to build another in Huntington Beach. In Santa Barbara, the water agency there has turned back on its desal plant for the time-being. And the Otay Water District is looking at a possible desalination project in Mexico.

Support for the Orange County plant has been waning, though, and Santa Barbara has said its desal plant is for emergencies only. Otay’s Mexico project is still years away and not fully permitted yet.

Rivard writes that while Poseidon and others continue to push hard for a future with lots of desalination, “environmentalists and water officials generally prefer to try water recycling and water conservation efforts before investing in expensive desalination facilities.”


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

Voting on Voting in November

San Diego City Council has a big decision coming Monday: whether to approve Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s budget, which includes $5 million for a November special election.

On the ballot would be the mayor’s proposal to fund the expansion of the Convention Center, increased homeless services and road repairs, and the SoccerCity proposal to redevelop the Qualcomm Stadium site.

Four City Council members have already come out against holding a special election, but the four Republicans and Democratic Council President Myrtle Cole could keep the special election alive on Monday.

The Union-Tribune’s editorial board thinks that’s exactly what the City Council should do – keep the money to fund a special election in the budget for now so full hearings on the two controversial proposals can move forward as planned later this month.

Monday’s vote is hardly the toughest hurdle the mayor will have to overcome on his path to holding a special election and getting the proposals he supports in front of voters sooner than the 2018 general election. On Friday, VOSD’s Scott Lewis explained how labor groups are already mounting what could prove to become lethal opposition.

• Over the weekend, former City Councilwoman Donna Frye came out against the mayor’s bayfront Convention Center expansion plan and touted the benefits of the Fifth Avenue Landing Hotel & Marina proposal that’s already in place for the plot of land where the Convention Center would be built. Here’s some background from VOSD on that project.

Weekend News Roundup

• A San Marcos-based company admitted to illegally dumping dirty portable toilet water into municipal sewers. The sneaky practice saved the company over $4 million in disposal fees. (U-T)

• Many critical comments and questions were fired at Rep. Darrell Issa at his town hall meeting in San Juan Capistrano Saturday morning. (NBC 7)

• Union-Tribune sports writer Michael Gehlken was let go from his job earlier this year. NPR’s weekly sports show, “Only a Game,” has the story behind Gehlken’s last piece for the newspaper, and it involves the Chargers leaving San Diego and an incredibly touching story about the team’s public relations director, who stayed for an admirable reason.

 A U.S. congressional delegation met with a group of deported U.S. military veterans in Tijuana Saturday, who said they had paid for their crimes and wanted to be able to return to the United States. (U-T)

• San Diego’s new downtown $555.5 million state courthouse is set to open this week. (U-T)

• Demonstrators marched in San Diego Saturday, joining a nationwide effort to demand an investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. (NBC 7)

David Ross, better known as San Diego’s “Water Man” and who provides drinking water to the homeless, has been profiled before, but this detailed story by the U-T’s Dan McSwain is read-worthy even if you think you know Ross’ story.

• Harriette Thompson at 94 became the oldest woman ever to run a half marathon when she crossed the finish line at the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon Sunday. (NBC 7)

Kinsee Morlan is engagement editor at Voice of San Diego and author of the Culture Report. Contact her directly at kinsee.morlan@voiceofsandiego.org

    This article relates to: Morning Report, News

    Written by Kinsee Morlan

    Kinsee Morlan is the Engagement Editor at Voice of San Diego and author of the Culture Report. Contact her directly at kinsee.morlan@voiceofsandiego.org. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter. Subscribe to her podcast.

    1 comments
    Paul Kelley
    Paul Kelley

    Support for desalination is not drying up.

    Desalination is a key tool for water managers in California.  Making sure a region's water supply is diverse, drought resilient and sustainable is an important decision and responsibility for local officials.  Water is key for all members of local communities.  Diversified water supply portfolios should not be discouraged just because a year of excess rainfall - just like stock raising or falling should not cause people to get out of a diversified investment/retirement portfolio.

    A recent California poll - done after the long wet winter - shows that 90% of Californians support desalination - and over 70% continued to support desalination when different sides of the ocean desalination arguments are put forward. (http://www.waterworld.com/articles/2017/05/poll-californians-strongly-support-seawater-desalination.html).  It shows that the general population supports prudent long term planning for local water supply, and their willingness to spend a few more dollars to ensure these local sustainable drought resilient drinking water supplies.

    Thanks for the discussion - CalDesal