Water Shortages and Droughts: 4 Surprising Things You Should Know

Craig Huey California, Environment, Israel 5 Comments

Coastal states that have droughts or water shortages, but also have an ocean on one of their borders … have a solution.

It’s called desalination.

Here are 4 things you should know:

  1. Israel has proved it works.

Israel has an arid climate – similar to California.

About 10 years ago, Israel commissioned a series of 5 privately-built and operated seawater desalination plants. These plants now supply 70% of the country’s drinking water. A 6th facility is in the planning stages.

  1. Technology has advanced to make desalination more energy-efficient.

Israel’s desalination plants use a reverse osmosis process that’s more energy efficient than previous desalination technologies.

The small geographic size of the state of Israel doesn’t allow it to power its desalination plants with solar power. It uses power supplied from primarily natural gas power plants.

States such as California could use a combination of nuclear power, power from natural gas power plants, and power supplied from large solar farms.

While California does have one large reverse osmosis plant in Carlsbad, development of additional desalination facilities is being hindered by unnecessary government regulations and by protests of environmentalists.

  1. Seawater desalination is economically affordable.

Desalinated water in both Israel and California costs less than one cent per gallon to produce – less than $1 for each 100 gallons of water used. Assuming daily use of 100 gallons of water per person, a family of 4 would pay around $120 per month for desalinated water – about the same as they are currently paying.

  1. Private companies can and should build and initially operate seawater desalination plants, not the government.

The private sector is always more efficient in infrastructure construction projects than governments.

Coastal states in the U.S. should follow the example of Israel and contract with private companies to build and operate desalination facilities.

Critics of a seawater desalination program argue that above-average rainfall could:

  • render the desalinated water unneeded
  • result in evaporation of the stored desalinated water
  • result in the waste of energy used to produce the desalinated water

Advocates on the other hand argue these are reasonable risks and costs of guaranteeing a reliable supply of water.

What do you think? Should states like California depend heavily on adequate winter snowfall to provide its year-round water needs?

Email me at craig@craighuey.com

Here are the rest of this week’s articles:

Comments 5

  1. Your estimates for water use are not at all reality for average home owner. Might be closer to apartment dwellers in large complexes for water use, but current cost is still 1/2 of desalination est.
    I have lived in Southern CA for 60 yrs +. Own a home, average size property (11000 sq. ft. property 1400sq ft hm) My water currently costs $0.45 per 100 gallons and we use average thru the year of 43,500 gallons per month for two adults. In years with more rain this volume is reduced by 30-40%. So my avg. cost are $100-$200 per month.
    Desalination would cost twice as much plus the cost of pumping the water uphill to 500+ ft. elevation where I live. My current water is gravity delivered with minor well pumping costs by the supplier.
    That said, this state should of course pursue desalination plants for the coastal communities which would stimulate competition/innovation which would eventually lead`to increased supply and reasonable costs. However the leftist leaders prefer to spend money on “trains to nowhere” and building their power base thru open immigration/welfare. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge in this state, but unfortunately zero wisdom.

  2. Craig,

    Good point on asking for citizenship on the Census of US Citizens! What doesn’t Washington understand?? hahahaha

    Desalination is another kettle of fish. Sure there is plenty of water in the ocean and Israel has been in the Desal business for awhile. Desal was a big topic 40 or 50 years ago too, when American companies were experimenting with the technology. Yes Desal works, NASA works too, but it costs 10 to 100 times more than SpaceEx. Israel doesn’t have a massive high mountain range that accumulates more water than we need in the Deluge years.

    The Carlsbad Desal plant in San Diego County cost the SD taxpayers $1 Billion bucks! It will take decades to payoff. When I checked several months ago the Carlsbad plant was operating at only 70% of projected capacity of 50 million gallons per day. That’s about 50,000 acre-feet per year. San Diego county uses 550,000 acre-feet per year. It cost a $Billion bucks to provide only 9% of San Diego’s needs! But we are only receiving 70% of 50,000 acre feet which equals only 0.7 x 50,000 acre-feet = 35,000 acre-feet. That’s just 6.4% of what San Diego needs. $1Billion/35,000 AF = $28,571 per acre foot. The MWP can supply water at around $1,200 per AF or less. Desal costs over 1,000% more than MWP. I realize the $1Billion construction cost is not a renewing cost but it isn’t the full amount extracted from SD taxpayers when interest and other loan costs on $1Billion over 30 or 40 years is added.

    Desal plants are very expensive to run because they consume a lot of electric power and expensive maintenance. Though I searched, operating expenses on the Carlsbad plant were not available. If the operating expenses are added to the cost in the previous paragraph it makes Desal water even more expensive compared to MWP.

    Nobody is considering the Taxpayer in this Rolls-Royce system. Nobody seems aware of the tremendous water supply nature gives in Northern California, or the abundant new aquifer found under the San Joaquin Valley. Look at my website http://MooreForAssembly.com

    Look under the water tabs on the website and you’ll see California receives about 400% more water per year in rainfall than it consumes. If we subtract the amount of water farmers poured back into the California ground that figure goes well over 400%. Agriculture is 60% of California’s consumption per year of 42 million acre-feet. 42 million acre-feet – 60% = 17 million acre-feet is all that is needed by all other California water customers.

    California has plenty of water, so much that the Oroville Dam was almost breached and washed away in 2016 and 2017. Look at the “Vindication” email I sent to you a few weeks ago. Even Jerry Brown had to admit we just needed more storage as recommended two years ago in my Website. The new massive Sites Reservoir is now under construction after years of unnecessary delay and obfuscation.

    —- John Moore

  3. In the latest Auburn Journal the head of Placer County Water Assn. said the state water board ruled that 40 to 45 per cent of river flows must be allowed to flow to the ocean to help the fish. That will force water conservation on a lot of people every year. Then on dry years they will want people to cut their usage in half.

  4. Perhaps building a solar farm at the Salton Sea area and combining electricity generation and saltwater evaporation/condensation would be feasible. The solids could be separated for various industrial uses. Ocean water contains all the non-manmade elements. The collecting tower is heated by the Sun, converting saltwater to steam driving generators, then the steam is condensed and ours water is distributed to homes in the form of distilled water. Sparklets could do it, pumping water out of the Salton Sea. The generators would power the pumps. If the Salton Sea got too low, pipelines could carry water from the ocean. It would be an easy Doctoral Thesis in figuring out the design and efficiencies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.