North America's largest seawater desalination plant is ahead of schedule

Contractually has to be open by November 26

CARLSBAD, Calif. - North America’s largest seawater desalination plant is ahead of schedule.

Construction on the $1 billion Carlsbad Desalination Plant is completed. Inspectors are now putting the plant through its paces to make sure it works.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Poseidon Water spokeswoman Jessica Jones.

The idea for the plant is almost 20 years old. As of Wednesday, the plant was desalinating 50-million gallons of water a day into clean drinking water. The water will be dumped back into the ocean until the plant passes inspection.

Poseidon Water built the plant and reached an agreement with IDE Americas to operate the plant. IDE built three of the four desalination plants in Israel. Those plants supply the Middle Eastern country with 60 percent of its water. 

They’ll be operating the largest plant in North America and the first on the West Coast.

The Carlsbad Desalination Plant is contractually obligated to open November 26. 

However, IDE Americas CEO Mark Lambert said Wednesday, “We are perhaps a little bit ahead of schedule….Somewhere in the October time frame we expect to be pushing water up the hill for drinking water.”

Eight powerful pumps will push 54-million gallons of water 10 miles uphill every day. The water will be dumped into a San Diego County Water Authority aqueduct.

It’s enough water for 300,000 people every day.

Lambert said they are already looking at ways to expand the plant’s production an additional five million gallons a day.

“We’re thinking about how to do that, when we would do it, and where it would go,” he said.

At the same time, plans are being drawn for California’s second desalination plant in Huntington Beach.

“I think the next one won’t take 20 years,” said Lambert.

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