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California City Considers Restarting Desalination Plant To Fight Drought

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the water-water-everywhere dept.

Earth 420

First time accepted submitter SaraLast (3619459) writes in with news about Santa Barbara considering the restart of its desalination plant. "This seaside city thought it had the perfect solution the last time California withered in a severe drought more than two decades ago: Tap the ocean to turn salty seawater to fresh water. The $34 million desalination plant was fired up for only three months and mothballed after a miracle soaking of rain. As the state again grapples with historic dryness, the city nicknamed the "American Riviera" has its eye on restarting the idled facility to hedge against current and future droughts. "We were so close to running out of water during the last drought. It was frightening," said Joshua Haggmark, interim water resources manager. "Desalination wasn't a crazy idea back then." Removing salt from ocean water is not a far-out idea, but it's no quick drought-relief option. It takes years of planning and overcoming red tape to launch a project. Santa Barbara is uniquely positioned with a desalination plant in storage. But getting it humming again won't be as simple as flipping a switch."

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A drop in the bucket. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920031)

Much WISER would be to deny frackers the CLEAN POTABLE WATER they pump deep into oil fields to get their 1 barrel of oil per 10 barrels wasted water.

Re:A drop in the bucket. (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 6 months ago | (#46920247)

Much WISER would be to deny frackers the CLEAN POTABLE WATER they pump deep into oil fields to get their 1 barrel of oil per 10 barrels wasted water.

1) I sincerely doubt the oil companies use the same water that you get from the tap to do that.

2) Southern California is a semi-desert anyway... always has been, always will be (well, within the next few centuries, anyway).

3) If they hadn't been so busy diverting existing water to save some obscure and hyper-local species of fish...

Re:A drop in the bucket. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920285)

"I sincerely doubt the oil companies use the same water that you get from the tap to do that." Ignorance is bliss.

Re:A drop in the bucket. (0)

stewsters (1406737) | about 6 months ago | (#46920399)

They need to use safe drinking water, because if they started pumping sewage into the ground people would get sick even faster.

Re:A drop in the bucket. (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46920593)

There is no link between water pumped into the ground for extraction and drinking supply. None What So Ever.

Don't build/farm in a desert (2)

sjbe (173966) | about 6 months ago | (#46920309)

2) Southern California is a semi-desert anyway... always has been, always will be (well, within the next few centuries, anyway).3) If they hadn't been so busy diverting existing water to save some obscure and hyper-local species of fish...

These two arguments contradict one another. If it's a desert then realistically they shouldn't have been diverting the water that said fish depends on in the first place. It only became an issue because water was diverted that shouldn't have been. You don't build stuff or farm in a desert when you don't have to. Las Vegas and Phoenix should not exist in anything close to their current form.

Re: Don't build/farm in a desert (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920459)

You sir, are and idiot. A desert is defined by low yearly precipitation. A river is not precipitation.

Re:A drop in the bucket. (3, Interesting)

davester666 (731373) | about 6 months ago | (#46920249)

They might also ask Northern California to perhaps stop shipping a whole bunch of water to China in the form of really cheap Alfalfa..

Re:A drop in the bucket. (2, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46920311)

Much WISER would be to deny frackers the CLEAN POTABLE WATER they pump deep into oil fields to get their 1 barrel of oil per 10 barrels wasted water.

Um... The amount of potable water used by frackers is such a low fraction of available water that this is almost laughable. There is many times more water wasted in a day because people won't fix their leaky toilets than the frackers use in a whole year.

If your goal is to save water, I suggest you outlaw watering grass using sprinklers that spray water. Mandate drip irrigation and make sure people are maintaining their plumbing properly. You got to start where the waste is the biggest, or your efforts are a joke.

Re:A drop in the bucket. (4, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#46920341)

Much WISER would be to deny frackers the CLEAN POTABLE WATER they pump deep into oil fields to get their 1 barrel of oil per 10 barrels wasted water.

That barrel of oil is worth $100. The ten barrels of water were worth about $1. A better idea would be to get the government out of the business of "picking winners" by micromanaging the allocation of water through idiotic subsidies that result in tens of thousands of acres or rice growing in the desert. California doesn't have a shortage of water, we just have an excess of stupid policies.

Re:A drop in the bucket. (0)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46920415)

California doesn't have a shortage of water, we just have an excess of stupid policies.

Totally TRUE. Mod parent up.

But totally predictable given the state's propensity to elect politicians from the hard left to both state and federal office...

Re:A drop in the bucket. (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46920623)

That would be hoprrid.

That means some rich guy will dictate who gets water. What's that? CA votes dem? well, no water for you.

And with that yoiu get POWER! (0)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 6 months ago | (#46920041)

Removing salt from ocean water is a big thing to set up, but don't forget that in addition to getting drinking water, you also get electric power out of the operation as well.

Re:And with that yoiu get POWER! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920119)

No? It's exactly the reverse. This takes *HUGE* amounts of electricity.

Re:And with that yoiu get POWER! (4, Interesting)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 6 months ago | (#46920503)

No? It's exactly the reverse. This takes *HUGE* amounts of energy.

Electricity is one form of energy used to power desalinization but certainly not the only form. But you are correct in that the use of electricity to desalinate is not very efficient. A focused solar lens array much like the ones used in solar electric production would be more efficient AND the resulting steam could actually be used to produce electricity as a byproduct. Not enough to be considered an electric generation facility but something is better than nothing.

Re:And with that yoiu get POWER! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920131)

Please explain how you get more energy out than you put in.

Re:And with that yoiu get POWER! (3, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | about 6 months ago | (#46920197)

easy, you merely convert the unwanted removed salt to energy. duh!

Re:And with that yoiu get POWER! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920227)

Please explain how you get a big fire out of a small fire and a lot of fuel.

Re:And with that yoiu get POWER! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920437)

fuel is energy -- converting it from one form to another often releases energy stored in chemical bonds. we call this "burning" and it releases "heat" which can be collected and stored or used for other energy needs. there is always loss when converting energy and trying to collect it

all in all, you aren't as clever or cute as you think you are.

Re:And with that yoiu get POWER! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920283)

Please explain how you get more energy out than you put in.

You start by building a nuclear power station, then you use the salt water as the primary cooling system and extract the water after it has been turned to steam.

What could possibly go wrong?

lol, wut ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920413)

Maybe the fact that Nuclear Reactors use Helium as their primary fluid to drive turbines and recycle it in a closed loop. Then have a secondary cooling system that cools the helium. The secondary cooling fluid never gets very hot because they maintain a high flow rate. No steam anywhere.

Re:lol, wut ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920587)

oH, i hope not!, all those duck sounding atomies, quacking me up. damn. I was hoping for supercritical steam, pushing the blades.

Re:And with that yoiu get POWER! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920149)

i think that's a little wrong -- it takes a LOT of energy to desalinate sea water. Maybe you can use the waste heat in a power plant to save a little, but it definitely is not a way to get any electric power.

this isn't fusion we're talking about

Re:And with that yoiu get POWER! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920153)

That seems backwards. The two main ways I know of to desalinate water both use lots of power rather than generating it.

Either you boil the water to evaporate it and then cool it which requires a lot of energy or you use pumps to pressurize a bunch of salt water and use a membrane to filter out the salt. Again pressurizing the water consumes a lot of energy. The linked article even mentions that it USES a lot of power rather than creating it.

Many environmentalists see desalination as a last resort, contending it's an energy hog

Re:And with that yoiu get POWER! (4, Interesting)

Walking The Walk (1003312) | about 6 months ago | (#46920531)

... or you use pumps to pressurize a bunch of salt water and use a membrane to filter out the salt. Again pressurizing the water consumes a lot of energy.

Couldn't you just drop a container into the ocean, one with only two openings - one with your membrane for salt water in, the other opening for desalinated water out? The deeper you put it, the more pressure outside the container that pushes the salt water through your membrane. Then you could use a low power pump to slowly remove the clean water through a hose attached to the other opening.

Re:And with that yoiu get POWER! (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46920327)

Removing salt from ocean water is a big thing to set up, but don't forget that in addition to getting drinking water, you also get electric power out of the operation as well.

Thermodynamics much there?

Let me guess, you have a source of free energy too..

Re:And with that yoiu get POWER! (2)

duke_cheetah2003 (862933) | about 6 months ago | (#46920491)

Removing salt from ocean water is a big thing to set up, but don't forget that in addition to getting drinking water, you also get electric power out of the operation as well.

Actually this isn't as off the mark as it seems to be. A nuclear power plant could double as a desalinization plant. But no one seems to like nuclear power plants.

now I never looked into it (-1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 months ago | (#46920043)

I never looked into it but I always hear how expensive it is to run these things. To me all you need to do is boil water to strip the salt, you sell the salt and the water back. Obviously it is more proccessing, and more expensive than getting just ground water or rain water because of that but how much more expensive can it really be?

also, could it not be done in a way where we use the salt water in a new type of energy generating plant, that collects the steam and makes it usable?

Re:now I never looked into it (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920071)

Now I never really looked into it, but it sounds easy. Too bad the people working on this aren't as smart as me.

Re:now I never looked into it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920093)

well... it takes energy to boil water and pump it around the system. When you are done, you need to cool that same water so that will take land and cooling equipment.

also, what do you do with the waste product of the seawater with the water removed? there's no place to dump that sort of toxic sludge cheaply.

worst of all, having "unlimited water" will prevent anyone from conserving or reducing development

it's a balance between LA-style sprawl and empty rural unlivable wastelands

Re:now I never looked into it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920181)

worst of all, having "unlimited water" will prevent anyone from conserving or reducing development

I know a lot of environmentalists really believe this bilge.
They honestly see resource shortages as a good thing, because the modern technological lifestyle is inherently evil.

Re:now I never looked into it (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about 6 months ago | (#46920347)

They honestly see resource shortages as a good thing, because the modern technological lifestyle is inherently evil.

Nice strawman, but... No.

No one (sane) considers resource shortages a "good" thing. Resource pressure, on the other hand, helps to prevent actual shortages.

When you have a free and unlimited open faucet, you use water for any old thing that comes to mind - Drinking, bathing, slip-n'-slides, washing the car, making rainbows with mist, growing a climate-inappropriate groundcover plant, whatever strikes your fancy.

When you have a $200/month water bill associated with that faucet, you damned well make sure it goes to the necessities, and you find a way to shower in under five minutes.

And when you get a ration of one gallon of water per day - You use it for drinking and cooking, period.

Conservationists "like" situation #2 solely because it prevents us from getting to #3. Unfortunately, we have, historically, artificially created the appearance of situation #1 even in the middle of a frickin' desert thanks to activities like draining the Colorado river dry (and the resulting downstream environmental disaster, as well as not-so-slowly depleting continental aquifers that take millennia to refill (ask Florida what happens when those get too low).

In a universe where you can really make infinite energy and infinite water and infinite food - Waste all you want! But in our universe, TANSTAAFL.

Re:now I never looked into it (2, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 6 months ago | (#46920403)

When you have a free and unlimited open faucet, you use water for any old thing that comes to mind - Drinking, bathing, slip-n'-slides, washing the car, making rainbows with mist, growing a climate-inappropriate groundcover plant, whatever strikes your fancy.

When you have a $200/month water bill associated with that faucet, you damned well make sure it goes to the necessities, and you find a way to shower in under five minutes

The hilarious part about the situation is the amount of overlap between conservationists and socialists.

"Water needs to be free (subsidized) because it's a human right!"

"Oh shit, when we artificially lower the price of things people use too much of those things. Since it was our attempt to micromanage resource allocation that caused the problem in the first place, we better double down with even more micromanagement by implementing rationing so that everybody will stop using as much of the resource that we forcefully made too inexpensive."

Re:now I never looked into it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920585)

And what do you propose? Invisible Hands(TM)?

Re:now I never looked into it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920619)

then, only the rich get clean water? How christian.

Re:now I never looked into it (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920465)

I stopped reading after the first two paragraphs.

So you rather see someone's quality of life go down whenever possible? I never get why people want everyone else to live their lives in groaning, miserable slavery with "resource pressure" on every single usable thing, be it Internet bandwidth, power, water, usable land, or food.

Lets be real here. Were it not for the parent poster and people like him, we would have effective, safe, thorium power plants, making very cheap energy, making it possible to desalinate water on a large scale so even though California is in a drought, it is mitigated. Israel has done this, and has turned featureless desert into a place where food gets exported.

However, we have the people who want to hand a family a gallon of water a day, since we have to always have starving poor people. We can't build reactors, so we are stuck polluting the environment with coal and oil, which are far worse ecological disasters over time than nuclear ever will be.

I guess the parent can enjoy "resource pressure" It does give some self smugness, similar to the guy who has the bumper sticker, "I have mine, up ours". However, those are the people who will be most reviled by our descendants because it isn't a matter of "cannot" with regards to clean water, but "will not".

If we had a free and unlimited faucet, coupled with cheap energy, waste from plastics could be "boiled" and made back into crude, ready to be reused, just as we smelt and recycle aluminum cans. There would be no Pacific Gyre.

However, it seems to be that we rather have people limit clean water and energy because it makes others suffer... and I guess suffering is one natural resource others thing is in short supply by their actions.

Re:now I never looked into it (5, Informative)

Guspaz (556486) | about 6 months ago | (#46920355)

Desalination plants don't boil water to filter the salt out. They use reverse osmosis, which typically requires about 3 kWh of electricity per cubic metre of water processed due to the very high pressure pumps required to force the water through the filters.

Re:now I never looked into it (1, Interesting)

PortHaven (242123) | about 6 months ago | (#46920097)

You could build floating rafts/barges that would do this passively. As the water condensates on a clear ceiling, it can be collected and filled into the rafts baffles. Fresh water floats on saltwater. So basically this thing could be filled up, then delivered.

California is just a bunch of greedy idiots who control more of the House than any other state. So they put pressure on the other states to capitulate to them.

Re:now I never looked into it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920235)

You could build floating rafts/barges that would do this passively. As the water condensates on a clear ceiling, it can be collected and filled into the rafts baffles. Fresh water floats on saltwater. So basically this thing could be filled up, then delivered.

Do you realize how large a raft like that would have to be to supply an entire city with water?

California is just a bunch of greedy idiots who control more of the House than any other state. So they put pressure on the other states to capitulate to them.

Too bad we're not all as smart and selfless as you, eh?

Re:now I never looked into it (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 6 months ago | (#46920255)

How do you deal with everything else that gets on the ceiling, like the salt spray from the air? How do you guide this raft to efficiently use its time, while still keeping management costs below the sale price of the water (including government funding)? How do you build the ceiling in the first place, which must be cooled to support condensation, mechanically conducive to collection, large enough to make the raft practical, and small enough to keep the raft manageable? Once you've filled the raft with several tons of fresh water, will it still be buoyant enough to hold the several tons of engine needed to push that mass?

Re:now I never looked into it (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 6 months ago | (#46920339)

Turn those barges into giant rain barrels and find a way to use wave action to pump it ashore and the entire Sahara and the interior of Australia will be as fertile as Iowa farmland. Then watch the climate change!

The singular reason that humans suffer from water (or any other natural resource) shortage is that there is a disagreement over the price. It is because it is being treated as just another commodity for Wall Street to profit from instead of a vital resource that all people have a right to.

Re:now I never looked into it (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 6 months ago | (#46920477)

So let me get this straight...

The Sahara, which has existed for a few thousand years, is a result of the commodities market, and the solution is to just pump water in from the Mediterranean, using the minute amount of usable energy extracted from wave action, with a machine that's big enough to supply water to the whole desert, yet cheap enough that there won't be a "disagreement over the price"?

Sounds simple enough.

Re:now I never looked into it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920125)

Hot, salty water must be just a liiiiiiittle bit corrosive

Re:now I never looked into it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920159)

The theoretical minimum amount of energy to boil an entire liter of room temp water is about 0.6kw. I pay about $0.12 per cubic yard of water. There are 765 liters in a cubic yard. Assume $0.10 per kw of power. That's at least $77 of electricity costs. To go from $0.12 per cubic yard to $80 per cubic yard is a bit more expensive.

I would say boiling water is out of the question.

Re:now I never looked into it (3, Insightful)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 6 months ago | (#46920509)

Well if you have the choice between dying of thirst or paying $80 for a cubic yard, you'd probably pay the $80.

A cubic yard is A LOT of water. You could live for some time off of that.

And, probably at that cost it makes sense for people to bring in water by the tanker truck, pushing prices down.

The key is what you're using it for. If you just want something to drink, $80 per cubic yard is quite all right. If you want to take a desert and turn it lush and green, it's quite expensive.

Seems to me people should look at usage case more than anything else.

Science is hard (4, Informative)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 6 months ago | (#46920179)

It's that little bit about boiling the water. Converting water from liquid to gaseous phase (aka boiling) is energy intensive (read:expensive). To go from room temp water (we'll say 20C) to all of it vaporized and ready for condensation takes about 0.72kWh for each liter of water. So before you run the plant, pump the water, cool the condensate, and prep it for delivery, you've got that much energy going in. Even if you had no other costs, and you paid the lowest (tier 1) residential rates from So Cal Edison, you're looking at $0.36/gal for water. Add processing, markup, delivery...you're north of $1/gal, I'd bet.

Of course, that's why they don't generally use distillation, but even in your scenario the cost of "just boiling the water" adds up very, very quickly.

Re:Science is hard (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 6 months ago | (#46920409)

You may be unaware, but you can get heat from this big ball in the sky (we like to call it 'the Sun"). A few parabolic trough mirrors can concentrate it nicely for things like heating lots of water....

Re:Science is hard (4, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | about 6 months ago | (#46920523)

You may be unaware, but the density of solar radiation is only about 6 kWh per meter square per day. That means that each parabolic trench of a square meter is capable of producing only about 10 liters per day. You'd need 100 square meters to provide the water needs of a single ordinary house. And that's assuming 100% efficiency; it's more likely to be at least twice that and quite possibly an order of magnitude, by the time you've shipped it. Then you've got to clean up the gunk, and amortize in the costs of the setup.

I'm all for more solar powered stuff, but it's not the automatic, easy win we'd like it to be, even for something as simple as this. Heating water to the boiling point, only to recondense it a moment later, is expensive. I'm sure that clever design could reuse that heat and reduce the costs, but it's still going to be far from free.

Re:now I never looked into it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920183)

There are a couple processes for desalination. Distillation is just one. The plant in the OP uses reverse osmosis.

Desalination is just always going to be an energy intensive endeavor. There are ways to recoup some of the energy but, end of day, its a lot less expensive to let nature do the work for you (and maybe not try to support millions of people in what amounts to a desert).

Re:now I never looked into it (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 6 months ago | (#46920519)

I wonder how much energy is spent doing reverse osmosis desalination. Distillation is very expensive, so even pumping at high pressure will be a lot cheaper in terms of energy than boiling large quantities of water to have it condense somewhere else.

As for the barge mentioned, I wonder if coupling a reverse osmosis plant with a reactor (the US Navy has perfected smaller marine reactors for decades) might just be the ticket. However, I don't know how it would scale to the size needed for a thirsty desert region.

It can be done. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Israel get most of their water from desalination plants.

Re:now I never looked into it (5, Informative)

sjbe (173966) | about 6 months ago | (#46920245)

To me all you need to do is boil water to strip the salt, you sell the salt and the water back.

The difficulty is not the ability to do it, it is that the energy requirements make it economically uncompetitive. Boiling that much water and then collecting the condensation generally takes a LOT of energy which is quite expensive in most cases. Places with a desert like climate and abundant energy resources (like the Middle East) can result in desalinization plants that are economically sensible but in much of the world it's just not competitive. Theoretically you could have a nuclear powered desalinization plant that might be economically competitive but I'm not aware that anyone has done this yet.

you sell the salt and the water back.

Doesn't work when it cost you more to get the salt and water than it costs to truck/pipe it in from elsewhere. Salt in this case is a byproduct but you wouldn't be able to sell it profitably or even on a breakeven basis given current prices in most places. Same with the water if it is being sold to farmers. It makes their crops economically uncompetitive with those from areas not experiencing drought.

Obviously it is more proccessing, and more expensive than getting just ground water or rain water because of that but how much more expensive can it really be?

Consult wikipedia [wikipedia.org] for a quick answer.

could it not be done in a way where we use the salt water in a new type of energy generating plant, that collects the steam and makes it usable?

There are waste heat desalinization plants being experimented with.

Re:now I never looked into it (2)

nojayuk (567177) | about 6 months ago | (#46920607)

The Soviets had the BN-350, a small nuclear-powered desalination plant running from the 1970s using an experimental fast-spectrum reactor. It was decommissioned round about 2000 when the specially formulated fuel it used ran out. I don't know how economic it was.

The Saudis are planning to build out a lot of nuclear power stations over the next couple of decades which along with solar thermal power plants will be used to power desalination plants currently fuelled by oil and gas. Other Middle eastern nations are planning similar facilities, some of them combined nuclear power generation and desalination systems utilising the "waste" heat from the reactors.

United Arab Emirates (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920297)

I live in the UAE. Every power station also produces water. Basically, the whole country lives on recycled power station coolant. Yummm...

Re:now I never looked into it (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 6 months ago | (#46920301)

The problem is scale.

Yeah but how much does it cost to boil water?

And you're not just talking boiling it, but boiling it away into steam. Get a big stock pot, fill it with water, put it on your stove, see how long it takes to boil away.

Even if we say it's just 10 minutes on the range to boil away 1L of water, how much water do you use in a day?

Even at $0.25 / L you're looking at a very expensive source for water when desalinization happens. Plus you have all sorts of nasty side effects from the increase in fossil fuels you burn. Not just greenhouse emissions (unless maybe you turn the desert into a giant desalinization plant), think of how fuel prices will rocket.

Re:now I never looked into it (1)

colfer (619105) | about 6 months ago | (#46920393)

Some actual energy and costs figures are here:
http://ccows.csumb.edu/wiki/in... [csumb.edu]
(Concerns a different region in California, but has been put together well.)

In the political battle in Santa Cruz last year, a key contention was that the proposed carbon offsets were not a real benefit to the environment.

Re:now I never looked into it (3, Informative)

Guspaz (556486) | about 6 months ago | (#46920431)

As has been pointed out, desalination plants don't typically use distillation, they use reverse osmosis. That is to say that they use very high-pressure pumps to force the water through a membrane which rejects salt. Energy consumption is currently at about 3 kWh per cubic metre, although that's falling over time was membrane technology improves (the less pressure required, the lower the cost).

That works out to about 3 watt-hours per litre. Where I live, industrial power rates put that at $0.0001056 CAD per litre. Or $0.1056 CAD per cubic metre of water (thousand litres) if you prefer.

Obviously, if you live in a place that charges more for power (industrial power is $0.0352 per kWh here), that cost goes up.

Re:now I never looked into it (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46920353)

I never looked into it but I always hear how expensive it is to run these things. To me all you need to do is boil water to strip the salt, you sell the salt and the water back. Obviously it is more proccessing, and more expensive than getting just ground water or rain water because of that but how much more expensive can it really be? also, could it not be done in a way where we use the salt water in a new type of energy generating plant, that collects the steam and makes it usable?

Reverse osmosis is a whole lot cheaper, energy wise, than distillation. The original plant was of the Reverse Osmosis type.

Re:now I never looked into it (2)

cahuenga (3493791) | about 6 months ago | (#46920535)

I never looked into it but I always hear how expensive it is to run these things?

In short, absurdly expensive. So expensive it became economically impractical after running for 3 month as the '92 El Nino made relatively cheap reservoir water available again. With the odds of a strong El Nino climbing this year it looks like we are set for a repeat of that expensive debacle.

Feast and famine of rainfall is a fact of life that politicians seem incapable of grasping. It has always been this way. Average and water-poor years followed by strong El Ninos, which reset the reservoirs and snowpack roughly every 10 years. Budgeting water better between El Ninos should be trivial, yet....

Re:now I never looked into it (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 6 months ago | (#46920635)

also, could it not be done in a way where we use the salt water in a new type of energy generating plant, that collects the steam and makes it usable?

Not economically, no. Steam plants typically cool the steam just enough to make it condense before sending it back to the boiler to become steam again. This conserves heat and thus the amount of fuel consumed per pound of steam delivered.

California = 1D10T Errors (-1, Troll)

PortHaven (242123) | about 6 months ago | (#46920069)

This should of been done 50 years ago. State of Colorado should halt the river until California dedicates funds toward this. They're the only southwestern state with this option. And they destroy the other states and cause immense environmental damage by their water greediness.

Both Central Valley region and Nevada rancher stand off, have nothing to do with protecting endangered species. Rather, it is all about killing agriculture in the southwest to free up more water for California urbanites.

Re:California = 1D10T Errors (5, Informative)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 6 months ago | (#46920167)

Farmers in the desert use about 20 times as much water as California urbanites.

Agriculture in the southwest (i.e. in the desert) is being killed by the lack of rainfall, which seems to have caught everyone by surprise. They're idiots first, farmers second.

Re:California = 1D10T Errors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920307)

Do you want food? Or do you want a bunch of hipster douchebags running the urban centers? Because if you rely on the hipsters to provide the bulk of GDP, you will have to turn around and spend that on food elsewhere. Nothing is free.

Re:California = 1D10T Errors (0)

jafac (1449) | about 6 months ago | (#46920525)

In the early part of the last century, automation reduced the labor amount for producing food drastically. This reduced it's market value. Probably far below its real value. (when you consider that that value is actually a composite of the food itself, and the water used to produce it, and the soil, and how we burned through the water and soil at a much higher rate than it can be replaced).

So if you want to blame something, don't blame "urban hipster douchebags". Blame the invisible hand for not being able to use basic science to look 100 years into the future and see how growing the population to 7 billion people, while burning through resources at an unsustainable rate, is going to make the concept of money look like a complete fraud, within the next generation.

Re:California = 1D10T Errors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920591)

That's ridiculous. Everybody knows that food comes from grocery stores and electricity comes from outlets.

All California really needs to do is have Diane Feinstein pass a law that makes more food and more water. Problem solved.

Re:California = 1D10T Errors (2)

hax4bux (209237) | about 6 months ago | (#46920171)

I hope you are ready when the population of southern California moves to where the water is. Don't worry, they will bring some "cool" with them. It will have to be an improvement.

Re:California = 1D10T Errors (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 6 months ago | (#46920267)

*sigh* - time to start building a fence and putting in machine-gun emplacements at the Oregon border...

Re:California = 1D10T Errors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920203)

*have

Re:California = 1D10T Errors (5, Insightful)

Mullen (14656) | about 6 months ago | (#46920225)

> Rather, it is all about killing agriculture in the southwest to free up more water for California urbanites.

Agriculture uses about 70%, with industry using 20% and urban populations using 10% of the water. Agriculture, you know, that stuff you eat from those greedy bastards in California.

> Nevada rancher stand off...

Bullshit. It's about some welfare rancher not paying his grazing fee's. Pure and simple. He has no intellectual or legal argument, so he is whipping up the dummies over on Fox News to call out the Tea Party morons to protest his desire to rip off the Tax Payers.

Don't build in the desert (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 6 months ago | (#46920499)

Agriculture uses about 70%, with industry using 20% and urban populations using 10% of the water. Agriculture, you know, that stuff you eat from those greedy bastards in California.

Much of the Central Valley in California is really a semi-arid desert [wikipedia.org] . Farm in a desert and it should not be shocking to anyone that you'll run into water shortages sooner or later.

Plus a non-trivial amount of water that could be used for farming is diverted to places like Las Vegas that simply should never have been built in the first place. You don't build a major metropolitan area in the middle of a desert unless you have no alternatives. And you certainly don't put swimming pools there. I've ever heard some foolish talk about diverting water from the Great Lakes and the Mississippi to support these desert communities. (which fortunately will not happen)

Re:Don't build in the desert (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920601)

Much of the Central Valley in California is really a semi-arid desert [wikipedia.org]

Most of the Western US is semi-arid. [wikipedia.org]

Re:California = 1D10T Errors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920521)

welfare rancher

Since when does RUNNING A FUNCTIONAL RANCH WITH YOUR OWN HANDS count as "welfare" on this planet? Whatever dictionary you're using, burn it! It will make you look like less of a complete retard to the rest of us.

Re:California = 1D10T Errors (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920555)

"Southern California Cities stealing all the water" is a popular and old conservative meme. Like most conservative ideas, it's not only completely full of shit but probably represents a literal 180 degree shift from actual reality. It's just shit politicians tell their rural republican voters to get them worked up.

Does simply living upstream mean you are entitled to all of the river's water?

Re:California = 1D10T Errors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920253)

Except they'll have to hire engineers from California to actually do that.

The rednecks in Colorado are too busy out hunting drones and building survival shelters to actually build anything on their own now.

Re:California = 1D10T Errors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920279)

bahahahaa....Rednecks in CO seriously? You've obviously never set foot in CO

Re:California = 1D10T Errors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920257)

People who write "should of" don't get to call others idiots...

Re:California = 1D10T Errors (2)

ron_ivi (607351) | about 6 months ago | (#46920315)

This should of been done 50 years ago. Various California water districts have been doing it for quite some time: http://www.acwd.org/index.aspx... [acwd.org] Just not on large scales.

Re:California = 1D10T Errors (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 6 months ago | (#46920545)

State of Colorado should halt the river until California dedicates funds toward this.

Riiight. Shut down the Hoover Dam and destroy the ecosystem of the Colorado river to teach California a lesson.

They're hardly the first... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920075)

They're not the first, nor the last.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlsbad_desalination_plant

It's because I moved from California. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920091)

I could always predict when it would rain when I lived in Los Angeles. It was always the day I decided I would go to the beach.

Re:It's because I moved from California. (2)

doconnor (134648) | about 6 months ago | (#46920269)

They are using the same idea this time. Spending millions of dollars on a desalination plant will cause droughts to end.

Re:It's because I moved from California. (3, Funny)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46920367)

I could always predict when it would rain when I lived in Los Angeles. It was always the day I decided I would go to the beach.

So PLEASE move back to LA and plan to spend your first month on the beach...

Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920105)

Why... Why, O worthless Slashdot, the above story when there are much more edifying ones, say, this: http://www.mid.ru/bdomp/ns-dgpch.nsf/03c344d01162d351442579510044415b/38fa8597760acc2144257ccf002beeb8/%24FILE/ATTLUY3T.pdf/White_book.pdf [MID.RU]?

Chelnov is about to pay you a visit, West.

Re:Again (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46920201)

Tell Chelnov we set out tea and cookies already! Glad to have him stop by for a chat.

#irc.trO7ltalk.com (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920109)

the official GAY that supports its readers and come Here 3ut now code sharing

Why not force frackers to use salt water instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920211)

They're just throwing the stuff down the drain anyway.

Re:Why not force frackers to use salt water instea (1)

madhatter256 (443326) | about 6 months ago | (#46920455)

With that logic... why don't we drink salt water... there are oceans filled with that stuff...

Re:Why not force frackers to use salt water instea (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46920497)

They're just throwing the stuff down the drain anyway.

Not an exact replacement, but I'm sure there would be issues with putting tons of salt water into the environment. I'm sure a fracking fluid spill made with salt water would be a SERIOUS environmental issue, where using fresh water it would not be an issue at all. Then the corrosive nature of salt water is likely to be a problem with the equipment. So, IMHO, your idea seems stupid at first blush.

Not to mention that fracking uses such a small fraction of potable water that it makes such regulations worthless. If you want to make a difference, ban lawn sprinklers in favor of drip irrigation or low water landscapes. Require homeowners to put in low flow shower heads and fix leaking fixtures. Both of these will save thousands of times more water than is used for Fracking.

just ask noam promotion going well beyond us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920217)

the preservation of pretense is over https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CKpCGjD8wg&list=PL456D453B409DF8D1 hang on to our hemispheres

At some point... (2)

argStyopa (232550) | about 6 months ago | (#46920265)

....someone's going to figure out that the problem here is " It takes years of planning and overcoming red tape to launch a project. "

Seriously?
Why?
If the state simultaneously refuses to constrain growth within their water resources, and cannot GTFO of the way of communities *solving* the water resource limitations themselves, does anyone see there's a contradiction there?

Re:At some point... (1)

Carewolf (581105) | about 6 months ago | (#46920337)

Because the state is the one who is going to pay for it. Desalination is very costly and inefficient. It can not be run as a profitable business.

Radiation! (1)

GNious (953874) | about 6 months ago | (#46920289)

I'm soooo looking forward to someone in California realizing that their seawater is connected to the seawater outside of Fukushima Daiichi ...

Re:Radiation! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920373)

I'm looking forward to Republican faggots sucking up contaminated fluids that they claim to be perfectly safe, of course.

Re:Radiation! (2)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about 6 months ago | (#46920387)

1) It's unlikely there's significant amounts of radiation after having been diluted with the entire Pacific Ocean.
2) Even if their were, it would be removed during the evaporation process, as it's unlikely this plant is going to be operating at a temperature sufficient to boil heavy metals

Re:Radiation! (4, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46920573)

I'm soooo looking forward to someone in California realizing that their seawater is connected to the seawater outside of Fukushima Daiichi ...

LOL, Yea, I love this kind of thing. Just because we can MEASURE the radiation in something means that it is a deadly poison.. Never mind that the yearly exposure is an order of magnitude or two less than what you'd get say in one airplane trip... You are right though, there will be protests the day before they turn on the switch (after the money is spent) claiming it's "not too late!" .

You say RADIATION and the poor uninformed public run like scared sheep to put a stop to that deadly menace to society, science and medical experts aside.

NSA and CIA aren't the first threat to freedom (1)

mi (197448) | about 6 months ago | (#46920363)

It takes years of planning and overcoming red tape to launch a project.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the evidence of lack (if not outright absence) of freedom. Sure, the government collecting records of our communications is scary. But the real threat is that more and more things are considered a privilege to be granted — or withdrawn — by the Executive, rather than a right, which can only be taken away by the Judiciary.

When even a (smaller) government — with officials fighting red tape during their paid-for work hours — has troubles overcoming red tape (from the bigger governments), what hope do ordinary citizens have?

Re:NSA and CIA aren't the first threat to freedom (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46920471)

Funny, when I read the line you quoted, I translate it to, "it takes years of planning because the project is complicated and has significant impacts on a large number of people." Red tape is just a biased way of saying, there are lots of ways to mess this up and so there are lots of rules in place to reduce the risk of a mess.

plenty of water from reverse osmosis (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 6 months ago | (#46920375)

but it ain't cheap. What is amazing is one of these heavy duty reverse osmosis systems, I saw one on a small trailer where the hose in harbor water in New Orleans just after Katrina. That water had all kinds of horrible stuff from sewage to industrial chemicals, but the output was nice clean drinking water. On a large scale it can be very expensive and then what to do with the filter units. Also the energy to run these things. So you can get water, it's the cost penalty.

I say for starters don't use water for fracking as others previously commented.

Headline threw me for a loop as California City is in area of long term drought (Mojave desert) and miles from the ocean, http://californiacity.com/ [californiacity.com]

The West is pretty much fucked. (1, Interesting)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about 6 months ago | (#46920383)

The western U.S. is living on borrowed time. Decades of unsustainable development mean that the West is already using more water than it has, leading to depletion of aquifers like the Ogallala, and reservoirs like Lake Mead and Lake Powell. Climate change makes it a pretty good bet that the current decades-long drought is going to become the new normal. The southwest can't sustain its population, or its agricultural economy. Today's southwesterners are going to be the new Anasazi, real soon. Everybody knows it, but nobody is going to do anything about it until it is way past too late.
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