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SLO County gets big grant to study desalination and water reuse projects

SLO County was awarded $550,000 in matching funds to start a feasibility, technology and project location study to take advantage of our over 80 miles of ocean frontage that could help transform seawater into drinking water.

With the prospect of future droughts due to global warming, “this renewable, almost inexhaustible resource would not be diminished by climate change, insufficient rainfall, or water conservation efforts,” says Angela Ford, SLO DESAL (Desalination Executable Solution and Logistics) Plan manager and supervising water resources engineer with the county.

In the Western U.S., record temperatures and drought conditions have forced states like California to plan for a future with dwindling water supplies even though current conditions are flush with nearly full reservoir supply across the state. Water users in the county have reduced per-capita water use by 30% since 2009 and are meeting state water use efficiency goals as limited new supplies other than recycled water remain.

The DESAL project will examine alternate sites, different technology options, and whether there’s a regional benefit that could help many water districts, Ford said.

“Recent technological advances have also made it more sustainable, energy-efficient and less impactful on the environment to turn seawater into drinking water than ever before,” the county DESAL Plan report says.


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