Desalination

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Status:  MWD and the City of Santa Barbara have reached agreement on terms, and are in the process of drafting a contract for a Long-Term Water Supply Agreement. 

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A Potential Source

The District’s Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP) specifies the development of local, reliable water supplies and desalination could be one component of a well-diversified water supply portfolio. Pursuing an independent desalination plant is an option for the District. However, partnering with the City of Santa Barbara in a regional approach to water supply has been encouraged in recent Board discussion and public comment—and could be more expedient and cost effective.

MWD and the City of Santa Barbara are in negotiations on a Long-Term Water Supply Agreement to provide a structure for ongoing regional collaboration on water supply. While this is typically discussed in the context of purchasing delivery from the City of Santa Barbara's newly recommissioned Charles D. Meyer Desalination Facility, the City could fulfill the delivery from a different source.


The City of Santa Barbara's Charles D. Meyer Desalination Facility

Originally constructed in 1991 in response to the water supply crisis that occurred in the late 1980s, the plant operated for only five months. In 1992 abundant rainfall relieved the drought condition, and the plant was put on stand-by and eventually decommissioned. MWD and Goleta Water District were initial investors in the plant, and held five-year contracts which neither renewed. In 2016, the plant was reactivated to mitigate the drought crisis and to provide long-term water supplies in the region. Visit the City's web site to learn more

“Moving forward with Phase 2 Negotiations is consistent with the District’s Urban Water Management Plan and is a proactive step towards developing local, reliable supplies,” states General Manager Nick Turner. “However, diversification is still essential. In the event that any single source becomes unavailable, we need to have multiple options for meeting customer demands.”