SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— With the continuing drought and dwindling water supplies, Bay Area-water agencies continue to explore a regional desalination project. The project is receiving a closer look and the possible construction of a new facility.

Desalination removes salts from the ocean or brackish water to produce fresh drinking water through filtration or distillation. San Francsico Mayor Ed Lee and the city’s Public Utilities Commission have been paying attention.

“We’ve been working with our own PUC to see what we can do by way of generating perhaps solar power that might generate power for a salinization plant,” Lee said.

The SFPUC owns land in Sunol that could be used to power a desal plant near Port Costa.

Tyrone Jue with the SFPUC said one of the downsides of desal is what to do with the excess salt removed from water.

“You have to discharge that somewhere and so one of the environmental concerns is that you don’t want to over-salt that area into one part of the Bay. We’ve been looking at; as part of the pilot project how to do that in a sustainable way,” said Jue.

A desal plant would cost an estimated $200 million for a 20-million gallon per day capacity project.

“It won’t matter what the cost is because our goal still has to be about providing water 24-7,” argued Jue.

The Bay Area’s five largest water agencies have been studying desalination for more than a decade.


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