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Could a floating desalination buoy provide water to Vandenberg Space Force Base?

A unique water-purifying project might be coming to the Central Coast soon. It’s a desalination buoy — a floating reverse osmosis plant proposed for testing in the Pacific Ocean about one mile of the coast of the Vandenberg Space Force Base. The project is the brainchild of the Ocean Portal Water Co., a subsidiary of SeaWell, a water technology company headquartered in Santa Barbara.

How the desalination buoy works

The unmanned buoy could conceptually produce 950 acre-feet of freshwater annually — about the same as the Central Coast Blue recycling water project proposed for South San Luis Obispo County. That’s more than 309 million gallons each year.

The buoy would suck in seawater through fine wire screens designed to ensure small ocean organisms are not trapped against them. The water would then pass through a series of filters to remove sediment, bacteria, viruses and minerals.

Then, it’s pumped up to high pressure and pushed through reverse osmosis membranes to remove salt and other dissolved minerals.

The buoy would pump that water back to a water station on shore, which would further disinfect it to ensure it meets drinking water standards. The water could then be distributed to local purveyors.

The buoy would get its electricity from on-shore grid sources, Stricker said.


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