NewsLocal News


Carlsbad Desal Plant workers shelter-in-place at work to ensure water safety

Posted at 5:31 PM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 22:33:40-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — During these uncertain times, many people are sacrificing their lives for the greater good.

A highly specialized group of employees at public utility plants who have jobs that are impossible to do at home are some of these workers. Some workers at the Claude "Bud" Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant are going above and beyond to make sure our drinking water is safe from the coronavirus.

When we think of heroes during this coronavirus pandemic, we immediately think of medical staff, grocery workers, and delivery people. But remember to thank those who continue to provide water.

"The plant cannot run without these operators," Jessica Jones, communications director at the desalination plant said.

RELATED: What's open during California's coronavirus 'stay at home' order

At the desalination plant, ten healthy employees who have what are considered "mission critical" jobs have voluntarily self-quarantined themselves at work. They have been living at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant since last Thursday. For 21 days, they will be on 12-hour shifts and sleeping in their RV's parked inside the facility.

"Being completely locked down is the only way we can ensure that these operators remain healthy," Jones said.

Having no human contact with the outside world, these quarantined employees will get food delivered to them at the gate. They will not see their families unless it is through Facetime.

RELATED: What's the difference? Cold vs. flu vs. coronavirus symptoms

And if they get sick, San Diego County will be short 50 million gallons of clean seawater-turned-drinking water per day, about 10 percent of the county's entire water supply.

The other 90 percent comes from snowpack or rainfall. It goes through the San Diego County Water Authority for a deep clean.

"All treatment plants have multiple processes that will either kill or inactivate bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants in the water," Jim Fisher, director of operations and maintenance at the San Diego County Water Authority, said.

RELATED: San Diego COVID-19 tracker

Whether it is the plant's reverse osmosis, or the Water Authority's sedimentation, filtration, and disinfecting, their natural processes kills any viruses, including the coronavirus. So experts say there is no need for buying water bottles in bulk.

"You can have confidence that the water is safe," Fisher said. "The water is continually being treated, and it's monitored 24 hours a day. The COVID-19 is not anything unusual from a water treatment perspective."

The plant will soon start a campaign for local students to write letters to the quarantined workers at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. If you are interested in sending some cheer during this lonely time, head to their Facebook page for more information.