Wall Street water companies are trying to profit off California's drought fears

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Consumers reject desalination boondoggles

In the wake of the recent drought, Wall Street water companies have been pushing seawater desalination as the solution to California’s water woes. They see an opportunity to make a fortune off the backs of hard-working ratepayers by locking public utilities into decades-long contracts for costly desalinated water. But we’re not buying what they’re selling. Highly paid lobbyists don’t change the facts on big for-profit desalination: It’s a bad deal for consumers, and we have better options to meet California’s water needs.

Seawater desalination is by far the most expensive water source.

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More expensive than imported water

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More expensive than harvesting rainwater

The fact is: desalination is a bad deal for California.

Fact: Wall Street water companies are putting profit over people.

By locking public utilities into decades-long contracts for costly desalinated water, they see an opportunity to make a fortune off the backs of hard-working ratepayers.

Fact: Seawater desalination is an energy hog.

At a time when California is working to kick our fossil fuel habit and maximize energy efficiency, desalination is a step in the wrong direction

Fact: We have bright ideas to meet long-term needs.

California communities from San Diego to San Jose are moving ahead with affordable, energy efficient and climate resilient water projects.

Smart water solutions

As the chart at left from Pacific Institute’s 2016 cost comparison shows, seawater desalination is by far the most expensive water source. It costs twice as much as imported water and nearly four times more than harvesting rainwater. Conservation and efficiency are by far the most affordable options. For good reason, California has a new state plan to eliminate water waste and maximize efficiency.

Seawater desalination is also an energy hog, using three times more electricity than water recycling. Meanwhile, investments in efficiency can save energy. At a time when California is working to kick our fossil fuel habit and maximize energy efficiency, desalination is a step in the wrong direction.

California communities from San Diego to San Jose are moving ahead with affordable, energy efficient, and climate resilient water projects, like the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center, and Orange County’s state-of-the-art Groundwater Replenishment System that produces twice as much water as the proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant for a fraction of the cost.

Big Water is desperate to push through its pet projects

With the return of the rains and proliferation of smart water solutions, companies like Brookfield’s Poseidon are getting desperate to win approval for their billion dollar desalination proposals. That is why Poseidon has spent millions lobbying for its Huntington Beach proposal. But the facts speak for themselves: seawater desalination should be an option of last resort, and the billion dollar boondoggles Poseidon is selling just don’t make sense for California communities.