Manhattan Beach City Council Comes Out Opposing Local Desalination Plant

Looks like a legal water war could be upon us.

We will save the Mad Max water war scenarios for a future date, even though El Nino is doing its best to move those dates up.

West Basin Municipal Water District serves over a dozen L.A. County cities and is currently getting an environmental impact report (EIR) ready for a $300 million ocean water desalination plant to be built in El Segundo. If approved by various regulators, ground could break as soon as 2020 and salt-free water would flow in 2023.

But not so fast…

Manhattan Beach, a city served by West Basin, is pushing back on the matter. In a letter to West Basin’s Board of Directors, Manhattan Beach Mayor Mark Burton says the city would prefer expansions of current water recycling programs that could allow West Basin to meet the demands of the cities it serves. Mayor Burton also contends that the EIR is on an aggressive schedule that would not allow thorough evaluation of the project’s impacts and the addressing of public concerns. The letter was distributed to the 18 other cities served by West Basin.

West Basin General Manager Rich Nagel has said that “no decision has been made on whether to build an ocean water desalination facility. This is currently an environmental assessment that keeps the option open as to whether the West Basin board should consider the next step.”

The L.A. Times ran a piece last year detailing the risks of committing to desal plants. Issues arise with costs, environmental risks, and relevancy. The relevancy one coming up when droughts end, Australia has mothballed four of six desal plants worth more than $12 billion after returning rains overfilled reservoirs.

One can only hope for regular rain and for some due diligence in the Santa Monica Bay.

More on desalination in El Segundo can be found here.