Local Water Desalination
When people hear "desalination," they usually think ocean desalination, which sounds
like the final frontier in water treatment and supply. However, ocean desal is
used as a water supply all over the world and will soon be as nearby as
Nevertheless, in Camrosa's Service Area, desalination refers to brackish groundwater
Round Mountain Water Treatment Plant (RMWTP) desalter, the first of its kind in Ventura County,
will desalinate brackish groundwater pumped from the Perched Aquifer. Offsetting
approximately 10% of the District's imported water demand with this local resource is a
giant step in increasing our self-reliance and supply dependability. Construction began
in February, 2013, and the RMWTP should begin producing water in early spring, 2014.
Brackish groundwater is groundwater that contains salts and other minerals far in
excess of what is found in drinking water, but not nearly as high as in ocean water. For
decades, the energy costs associated with desalination made it cost-prohibitive for
agencies of our size, but technological improvements and the ever-increasing cost
of imported water have made desalination a viable alternative.
The Perched Aquifer underlies the northeastern portion of the Oxnard Plain
around the CSUCI campus and has a very high salts content. At one time, as many as eleven
wells operated in the Perched Aquifer, supplying Camarillo State Hospital with all its
water needs. After decades of use and reuse of that water, argricultural irrigation and
fertilization, and nutrient leeching from the hospital's septic fields, the groundwater
grew saltier and saltier, until in the mid-1970s it exceeded California Public Health
standards for salinity, and the area was annexed into Camrosa. Camrosa recently
rehabilitated the nearby University Well, which will provide the RMWTP's source
water from the Perhced Aquifer. Click
to learn more about the RMWTP.
The Salinity Management Pipeline (SMP)
that Calleguas Municipal Water District is building to provide brine stream disposal
for local desalination facilities may provide additional opportunities for desalination
within the District. These could include agricultural desalters, private desalters,
and groundwater injection by the District of
Additional Water Resources.
The SMP will also provide brine disposal for an interagency
regional desaler, though this project is currently still in the conceptual stages.