Harold Williams is Vice President of the Board of Directors of the West Basin Municipal Water District (which serves 1 million people) and Chair of West Basin’s Water Resources Committee. He represents the Palos Verdes cities, Carson, and portions of San Pedro. He is a California Registered Civil Engineer, doing infrastructure-consultations for cities and districts.

The West Basin District was formed by vote in 1947, when there was a drought and groundwater was being over-pumped, causing seawater intrusion into the water table. Not enough water was available through the Aqueduct from Northern California. New water was brought to Los Angeles from the Colorado River for the growing urban area.

The Ocean Water Desalination Program has been initiated to help ensure a reliable future quality water supply to the Water District, now in our fifth year of drought. Gov Brown has ordered a ban on wasteful water practices. Besides improved conservation, multiple sources of water are needed in addition to the Colorado River (which is over-subscribed). These include aqueduct water from Northern California (more limited now due to decreasing snowpack), groundwater (which must not be over-pumped to avoid seawater intrusion), recycling of waste-water (now beginning), and the new Ocean Water Desalination Program.

The location for the Desalination Program has not yet been determined, possibly in El Segundo or Redondo Beach. An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is being drafted, and is expected to be finalized by winter 2016-17. A major concern is how to protect marine life from being sucked into the ocean water intake, and how to safely dispose of the output brine (concentrated saltwater) which is toxic to marine life if not adequately diluted before exposure. Another concern is how much energy will be needed to remove salt from the water; the goal is for the process to become carbon-neutral. The cost is estimated to be about ½ cent/gallon (bottled water costs ~$1.22/gallon), and capacity will be about 20 million gallons/day. Other existing or planned desalination plants in California include Santa Barbara (5 million gallons/day), Carlsbad (50 million gallons/day), Monterey (5-7 million gallons/day, pending), and Huntington Beach.

The West Basin Municipal Water District is asking for public understanding, comment and support for this Program. The website is www.westbasin.org.