Water Authority releases proposed Carlsbad Desalination Water purchase agreement, sets two public review meetings


The San Diego County Water Authority released, Sept. 27, a proposed Water Purchase Agreement with Poseidon Resources, the private developer of the planned seawater desalination plant in Carlsbad. The release opens a public review period that includes two special evening public meetings to share information on the agreement and to receive public comment.

The agreement specifies the proposed commercial and financial terms for the production and delivery of water from the planned desalination plant to the Water Authority’s regional water delivery and treatment system.  It also includes terms for the potential purchase of the plant by the Water Authority.

The Board has not approved the agreement and will set a date for voting on the proposed agreement after it has had the opportunity to receive public comment and to review and deliberate the proposed agreement’s terms.

“This proposed agreement, reached after months of negotiations and careful due diligence, is being presented to the Board of Directors for its deliberation and consideration,” Water Authority General Manager Maureen Stapleton said. “If this agreement is approved, the Carlsbad Desalination Project would meet our region’s long-term water supply reliability goal of having 7 percent of our region’s water supply needs met through seawater desalination by 2020.”

The full proposed water purchase agreement and appendices are available at 



The Water Authority will host two evening public meetings to hear public comments on the proposed agreement.  The schedule for those meetings is:

  • 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2 at the Water Authority’s headquarters, 4677 Overland Ave., Kearny Mesa.
  • 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10 at the city of Carlsbad’s Faraday Center, 1635 Faraday Ave., Carlsbad.

Agendas for those meetings will be posted 72 hours in advance at 



“Water Authority management has led a team of industry experts in project development and finance to negotiate this agreement,” Water Authority Board Chair Michael T. Hogan said.  “It is now time for the Board of Directors to deliberate the proposed business deal and then decide whether to move forward.  I encourage the public to review the agreement and come to one of our upcoming meetings to learn more and provide us with their input.”

The Water Authority has investigated seawater desalination as a new water supply since 1993.  While more expensive than existing supplies, adding desalinated seawater to the region’s water sources would make the water supply more reliable by reducing the region’s dependence on imported water sources that are vulnerable to droughts, disasters and regulatory restrictions.  Since 2010, discussions have focused on contractual terms to transfer risk to the private sector for the design, construction and operation of the desalination plant and the design and construction of the new conveyance pipeline from the plant to the Water Authority’s system.

Under the agreement, the total price for the water – including costs to make improvements to the Water Authority’s pipelines and treatment plant to accommodate the new supply – is estimated at $2,042 to $2,290 per acre-foot in 2012 dollars, depending on how much water is purchased annually.  (An acre-foot is approximately 325,900 gallons, or enough to supply two typical single-family households of four for a year.)  The impact of this new supply on an individual’s water bill will vary depending upon their local water agency.  The average household’s water bill would increase approximately $5 to $7 a month by 2016 to pay for the new supply.



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