Long Beach Partners With Los Angeles to Construct and Operate Seawater Desalination Prototype Plant

On Tuesday, October 15, the Long Beach Water Department and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) entered into a Cooperative Agreement to construct and operate the Long Beach Water Department's Desalination Prototype Plant at LADWP's Haynes Generation Station, located at 6801 Westminster Avenue, in Long Beach, Calif.

Through a federal cost-sharing partnership with the United States Bureau of Reclamation, Long Beach will build and operate a 250,000 gallon-per-day research and development facility at the Haynes Generation Station. LADWP will provide land and power in exchange for free use of the Long Beach Water Department's patent-pending desalination technology and prototype research data. Design work on the prototype plant has begun.

On September 9, 2002, the Long Beach Water Department entered into a Cooperative Agreement with the United States Bureau of Reclamation that allows the federal government to provide up to 50 percent of the prototype plant's $5.3 million total cost.

"Our strategic partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and now the LADWP, will be used to further demonstrate the viability of our unique technology, identify the optimum pretreatment process, optimize power consumption and address brine disposal issues, among many other things," stated Kevin L. Wattier, general manager of the Long Beach Water Department.

"LADWP is looking forward to its partnership with the Long Beach Water Department. It demonstrates our agencies' commitment to developing a new resource that will provide for future water supply reliability to our service areas in a cost-effective manner. Seawater desalination is definitely in our future water resources plans," stated Gerald Gewe, assistant general manager of water for LADWP. "This program will assist us in expeditiously researching and developing technically and economically viable methods to desalt seawater to supplement our traditional water supplies."

The Long Beach Water Department has developed an innovative process for desalting seawater using membrane technology. This patent-pending process has been tested on a small scale for nearly one year, and is now ready for studies to determine the feasibility of constructing a full-scale desalination plant. Exhaustive testing has shown the patent-pending technology to be 20 to 30 percent more energy efficient than more widely used methods. Because desalinating seawater requires large amounts of energy, improved energy efficiency is critical to making seawater desalination cost effective for Long Beach and other California cities.

Drought and imminent reductions in the amount of water Southern California is allowed to take off the Colorado, while our economy and population continue to grow, threaten the limited reliability we now enjoy. Seawater desalination, coupled with conjunctive use, reclaimed water and conservation, will provide Long Beach a hedge against the uncertainty in the long-term reliability and affordability of imported water supplies.

Long Beach Water Department

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