Santa Barbara turning to desal to curb drought
May 20, 2014
The city of Santa Barbara is preparing to open its untapped desalination plant in order to cope with the ongoing drought. [KEYT]
Santa Barbara constructed the plant in 1991 following a five-year drought, but the city only used it in test runs. Sufficient rain arrived as the plant was constructed, and the city has since considered it a reserve water source.
But, the city council is expected to declare a stage 2 drought on Wednesday, and Santa Barbara officials say residents will need desalinated water by 2017, if the current drought continues.
Opening the desalination plant will require considerable funding and overcoming regulatory hurdles. The plant would cost approximately $29 million to restart and $5 million to operate on an annual basis.
The city must gain approval from several state and regional agencies before operating the plant. Santa Barbara officials will meet Wednesday in Sacramento with representatives of several state agencies, including the California Coastal Commission and State Water Resources Control Board.