Nearly 100 people gathered last Thursday at a Manhattan Beach community center to hear from leading environmental experts on the future of water in LA, and the role that open-ocean desalination should (or, more appropriately, should
not) play in that future.
was held largely in response to West Basin Municipal Water District's proposal to build a 20-60 million gallons per day (MGD) open-ocean desalination facility along the Santa Monica Bay, likely in the El Segundo area. West Basin is a water wholesaler that sells water to 17 cities in the Los Angeles region. Serving a population of nearly one million local residents, the agency is the 6th largest water district in California.
Environmental advocates oppose open-ocean desalination as a first resort as it is the most expensive, energy-intensive and environmentally damaging way to develop local water supplies.
||Photo Courtesy of Steven Johnson of Heal the Bay.
Hosted by LAW, Heal the Bay, Desal Response Group and Surfrider Foundation - South Bay Chapter, these groups along with former Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook, longtime coastal activist Joe Geever, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, presented on a variety of topics including: where our water currently comes from; the environmental and economic costs of desalination with case studies from Orange County and San Diego; and more sustainable and equitable options for our water future.
With a lively question and answer session following the presentations, the take home message was clear: open-ocean desalination should be pursued as a last resort, only after preferable options - like reclaiming more wastewater from the Hyperion Treatment Plant just up the coast from the proposed desalination facility - are exhausted.
"West Basin has been a longtime leader on recycling wastewater," noted LAW Executive Director Bruce Reznik. "It is our sincere hope that they abandon their misguided effort to pursue open-ocean desalination, and instead redouble their successful efforts on water reclamation."
This town hall - which took place in one of two cities served by West Basin that have voted to oppose the desalination project (Hermosa Beach being the other) - was the first such community event organized by the environmental coalition. It is our intent to host similar events in other areas served by West Basin in the coming months.
The event was live streamed, and a video of the proceedings can be found