What $400 Million Worth of Desal Buys in the Real World

The Monterey Peninsula as seen from the Marina dunes

As everyone knows, the desalination plant proposed as our Regional Water Project is expensive. Very expensive.

The PUC’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates called its estimated $400 million cost “extraordinarily high for a desalination plant of this size.” That was an understatement. Water from the Marina desal plant is expected to be vastly more expensive than water from other desal plants around the US and world. And no real explanation has ever been offered for the excessive cost – which will only grow more excessive as legal fees mount.

So we were interested to read today that Israel is proposing to build a similarly priced desalination plant ($423 million, compared to our $400 million). While our plant isn’t scheduled to come on line until 2016, the Israelis figure they can get their plant finished in less than half the time (by 2013).

So how much water will this hastily constructed Israeli plant desalt each year?

How about 100 million cubic meters? That works out to better than 81,071 acre feet per year, or more than 7.7 times the 10,500 acre feet per year our Regional Desal Plant hopes to produce.

Yes. In the real world, people get more than 7 times as much water per dollar of desal investment.

Put another way, the Israelis will be paying about 2.4 shekels per cubic meter (which works out to about $839.12 per acre foot), compared to the $6,000 per acre foot (or more) that the Regional Desal Project’s water is expected to cost the Cal-Am ratepayers.

But who cares? We can’t afford to complain. If we don’t unquestioningly accept whatever self-serving deals the Marina Coast Water District and their buddies work out in private, the State Water Resources Control Board will cut off our water!!! Everyone knows that …

Click here to read the Reuters story on Israeli desal plant.

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3 Responses to What $400 Million Worth of Desal Buys in the Real World

  1. Chris says:

    Your comparison with the Israeli desal plans, XT, puts things in a very helpfully direct light. Thanks again.

  2. Valley-ite says:

    $900 per acre foot would be quite competitive given the Peninsula’s unique requirements. Perhaps the District should negotiate a deal with the Israelis.

    More specifically, residents should question this deal and demand transparent information along with direct electoral accountability. Water resources in this state are intended to be made available as a public benefit, not as scams to profiteer from.

    For $6,000 an acre foot, the District could acquire water rights from Fresno area farmers and pipe in high quality, low TDS Kings River water!

  3. Pardon me if you’ve covered this already, but don’t desal plants take a lot of electricity? Are future cost hikes figured in? And where does the “sal” water come from? How many fish and other critters are sucked into the pumps?

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