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Water agencies in California have working development plans on the table for the construction of desalination plants.

Desalination plants a pricey option if drought persists

As the drought bakes its way toward a fourth year, the state has a string of secret weapons in the works that could supply millions of gallons of new drinking water and help stave off disaster: desalination plants.

Seventeen plants are in planning stages along the coast to convert salt water from the ocean or bays, including one near Concord that would serve every major water agency in the Bay Area.

Here's a map of those plants that are in various stages of development.
There are a number of considerations that make such plants controversial. In addition to major construction and operational financial cost, there are also important environmental considerations.

A century ago as California cities were turning into large metropolises and commercial agriculture was beginning to boom, the collective thirst provided the impetus for government construction of dams, reservoirs and aqueducts. It is becoming apparent that water demand has reached the point of leaving little room to maneuver in the event of a drought such as the one presently gripping the state and region.

Water managers have had many plans that ran into insurmountable obstacles. They included damming the north coast rivers and building a peripheral canal around the delta. There will be no shortage of controversy and debate about the idea of desalination.      

Originally posted to Richard Lyon on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 03:52 PM PST.

Also republished by California politics.

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