California DWR announces $25 million in water desalination grants

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is awarding $25 million in grants to 25 water desalination projects. The funds will be used by local agencies, water districts, academic and research institutions for construction, pilot and demonstration projects, research and development, and feasibility studies to increase the development of new water supplies using water desalination technologies.

The awarded projects include desalination facilities in Marin, Alameda and San Bernardino counties. Pilot projects in Long Beach, Santa Cruz, San Diego and Carson are among those that will receive funds under this cycle of the desalination grants program. Research and development activities at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of California, Los Angeles are included in the awarded projects, as are feasibility studies by agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area, Monterey, and Riverside County.

Funding for the projects is available through Proposition 50, the Water Security, Clean Drinking Water, Coastal and Beach Protection Act, passed by voters in 2002. Proposition 50 authorized the sale of $3.4 billion in general obligation bonds for a variety of water projects including coastal protection, the CALFED Bay-Delta Program, integrated regional water management, safe drinking water, and water quality.

In January 2005, DWR received 42 eligible applications requesting $71.3 million. DWR decided that the available $25 million under the current desalination grant cycle should be used to fund 25 of these projects. Approximately $11.5 million of the available funds will support ocean water desalination related projects and $13.5 million will support brackish water desalination related projects. The term "brackish" describes water with a high salinity level, found in surface and some groundwater supplies.

A Desalination Review Panel was formed to help the State review the applications. The panel, comprised of members representing local, state, and federal agencies and other stakeholders, evaluated the proposals using the criteria established for the grant program.

A complete list of the awarded projects and other related information is at: http://www.owue.water.ca.gov/recycle/index.cfm.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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