$1 Billion Desalination Plant Project Wins International Award

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Tue. May 10th, 2016 - by Laura Hillen

CARLSBAD, CA – Less than one year after its opening, The Claude ‘Bud’ Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant has already secured an international award for its technological and environmental achievements. The facility has been anointed Plant of the Year 2016 by Global Water Intelligence.

“The tenacity shown by the developer team is matched only by the importance of seawater desalination as a key part of the solution to California’s water crisis. A canny combination of state-of-the art energy recovery technology with an external energy offsetting programme makes Carlsbad the first major infrastructure project in the state of California to completely neutralise its carbon footprint,” said the Global Water Intelligence in a press release. 

The $1 billion plant project came to fruition after a 30-year Water Purchase Agreement between the plant’s owner and developer, Poseidon Water, and the San Diego County Water Authority. The plant started commercial operations in December of last year for production of up to 56,000 acre-feet of water per year. Internationally known company, IDE Technologies, operates the plant and its water treatment solutions. 

Carlos Riva, CEO of Poseidon Water, with Mark Weston, Charmain of the San Diego County Water Authority (Photo Source: Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego)

“Poseidon is honored to have received this recognition from so many of the industry’s leaders for what we accomplished in Carlsbad,” said Carlos Riva, CEO of Poseidon Water. “The Claude ‘Bud’ Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant is truly a remarkable success as it will provide enough desalinated water to serve up to 400,000 San Diego County residents during this period of record drought.” 

The project is comprised of the desalination plant itself, a ten-mile pipeline that connects to the Water Authority’s regional distribution system, and upgrades to Water Authority facilities for distribution throughout the region of the desalinated seawater. 

This project, and its efforts to provide safe water for the area by initializing using seawater, is part of a multi-decade strategy by the Water Authority to diversify the region’s water supply offerings. 

The desalination plant and components uses reverse osmosis membrane technology to now produce ten percent of the region’s water. The Water Authority stated that this supply is unaffected by weather conditions, and is also blended with water from other sources for its distribution. 

“We build projects to enhance the safety and reliability of water supplies for the San Diego region – not to win awards,” said Mark Weston, Chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “But this kind of international acclaim helps to validate the years of work that went into making the Carlsbad project a stunning success. We could not have done it without the steadfast support of our community partners, our member agencies and the team that Poseidon put together.”

Kiewit-Shea Desalination performed the construction of the plant, after Poseidon secured funding through the agreement from the sale of private bonds, and a near to $200 million private equity contribution from Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners. 

The project also gained additional industry acclaims after partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to create, restore, and enhance 66 acres of vulnerable local wetland as part of the project.

The plant’s award-winning title was announced at the end of last month at the Global Water Summit in Abu Dhabi. Global Water Intelligence, the bestowing company of the award, is a publisher of periodicals for the international water industry.

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The Claude ‘Bud’ Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant