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Local Water Desalination

SelfReliance_Desalter 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 is as close as San Diego, where a new regional desalination facility began operating in 2015.

Nevertheless, in Camrosa's Service Area, desalination refers to brackish groundwater desalination.

Our Round Mountain Water Treatment Plant (RMWTP) desalter, the first of its kind in Ventura County, desalinates 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 began producing water in early spring, 2015.

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 here 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.

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