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Joanna Clark, San Juan Capistrano

 According to the South Orange County Wastewater Authority (SOCWA), the San Juan Creek Ocean Outfall discharges 11.3 million gallons of highly treated wastewater 2.2 miles off the Orange County coast daily.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the proposed desalination plant would “produce 4 to 5 million gallons of potable water per day, with the possibility of increasing the output to 15 million gallons per day. The water would cost $2,169 per acre-foot while producing 5 million gallons a day. An acre-foot is equal to 326,000 gallons, or enough water to cover an acre of land one-foot deep.”

The Orange County Register reports that if imported water flows continue without reduction, “the proposed Poseidon project could cost customers nearly $250 million more than if they merely continued relying on imported water to supplement local supplies, according to the report.”

Editor’s note: The report also said the project could be beneficial if environmental trends worsen based on demand and costs of imported water.

This is insane.

What would it cost to redirect the 11.3 million gallons of recycled water, currently being discharged into the ocean, and inject it into the San Juan Basin? Indeed, not $250 million.

According to the San Juan Basin Authority, “the quality of the San Juan Basin ranges from good to poor. The lower basins are deep; however, they contain brackish water and require treatment, while the shallow upper sub-basin has lower TDS (total dissolved solids) concentration.

“Monitoring wells, as well as the current production wells, help measure water levels and electric conductivity, which helps determine the number of various constituents found in the water. It is alleged that the bulk of the salt content in the groundwater comes from marine sediments found to underlie much of the basin.”

Furthermore, the San Juan Basin Authority’s website reports that “the San Juan Capistrano’s lease of the Groundwater Recovery Plant (GWRP) is set to expire in 2035. The GWRP could be upgraded, if necessary, to produce processed water safe for human consumption” and, it would not cost $250 million.

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