Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Desalinization in California

    Water is one of the most precious resources. Humans are in fact about 70% water. In Maryland, most of the water comes from underground limestone caverns and plentiful rivers. California does not have this.  In California, where clean water is not abundant, new ways must constantly be created in which to provide clean water to residents. At the Agua Hedionda Lagoon currently water is being diverted from the ocean through intake valves to cool a local natural gas-fired power plant. In the future regional planners have a goal to create the largest and most modern desalination plant in the United States to help provide water. This technology is already in use in places such as Israel and Singapore but not on a large scale in the U.S..
According to the article,“The San Diego County Water Authority has agreed to buy at least 48,000 acre-feet of water from the plant each year for about $2,000 an acre-foot. An acre-foot equals about 326,000 gallons, roughly enough for two families of four for a year. The authority has made a long-term bet that those costs — now double those of the most readily available alternative — will eventually be competitive. But it still means the authority will pay more than $3 billion over 30 years for only about 7 percent of the county’s water needs.” The facility will also cost $1 billion to build.
    One acre foot equals enough water for 8 people. Therefore the Facility will provide roughly 384,000 people with water.  Charging $2000 dollars per acre foot equals 96 million dollars per year.  The article clearly states it is more expensive currently but their belief is that its cost ill balance as technology increases. Currently with Government subsidies water is 1000 dollars per acre foot, half the cost of the Desalinization plants offer.
    As time goes on the County will have to pay over 113 million dollars per year for the water, meaning the 96 million dollars a year provided by the water purchase agreement will not cover costs. In response to this, they claim that with the rising costs of water, the desalinization plant will provide cheaper water by 2024. The plant will consume 5000 kilowatt hours of power to produce 1 acre foot.  That is 240 million kilowatt hours per year. This will conflict with raising water costs as electricity costs are slated to raise 5 to 7 dollars per year. According to San Diego General Electric power costs will be approximately 30 cents per Kilowatt hour. That is about 72 million dollars in power costs a year.
    96 million dollars income coupled with high energy costs make this system appear inefficient. Rising costs in electricity and water are inevitable. With this increase in technology the water authority is banking on the fact that it may become cheaper over time.
    The second article goes into how currently the state of water in California is dire and needs a reform. Currently many metropolises fight for rights over rivers that are polluted and over tapped. Water is transported very far distances and its true costs are covered by subsides. While the desalinization plant is more costly in the short term, in the long term it seems as if it truly will be cheaper.
    The cost of water will only continue to increase as quantity demanded continues to rise, which in turn will continue as long as people continue to have children. The only way to ease the price rise is to increase the quantity supplied which will happen as more creative ways of supplying water continue to be implemented in the future.

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