San Diego to get drinking water from ocean

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SAN DIEGO – The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors overwhelmingly approved a 30-year deal Thursday to take desalinated water from a future plant in Carlsbad.

The water authority board voted in favor of the purchase agreement by margin of 85 percent to 10 percent, with the rest abstaining. The vote clears the way for the $1 billion desalination plant next to the Encina Power Station.

“This plant would be built by early 2016 and start delivering water to the region,” said Jason Foster, Direct of Public Outreach and Conservation.

OCEANThe plant would deliver 48,000 to 56,000 acre-feet of water, which equates to about 50 million gallons. By 2020, it would account for about 7 percent of the total regional supply.

“The advantage of having a desalination plant is that it’s a local drought-proof supply,” said Foster.

But, not all are buying the argument.

“Cheaper, more reliable sources are conservation, recycling and efficiency,” said one protester at the board meeting Thursday afternoon.

“It’s clear we all need water, but it’s not clear how we get it,” said Shannon Smith of the Surfrider Foundation. The non-profit agency provided the loudest voice at the meeting.

“It seems like we’re just jumping into it without having all the questions answered,” said Hailey Haggerstone of the Surfrider Foundation. “As far as what it’s going to cost the taxpayers and not looking at other options.”

Supporters of the desalination project argue the plant isn’t just a solution for our San Diego’s water problems.

“We all recognize that this project is critical to our regional economy and quality of life,” said Mayor Jerry Sanders.

“While it’s important to take steps toward water conservation I also believe desalination needs to be considered to reduce our over-dependence on water supplies,” said Martin Garrick, State Assemblyman for the 76 District.

Those opposed said the decision can wait.

“It’s just not the answer so we need to look at our other options,” said Haggerstone.

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