Tianjin, China, Hosting IDA's World Congress 2013

The International Desalination Association's Oct. 20-25 meeting at the new Meijiang Convention and Exhibition Center will focus on desalination technology, environmental sustainability, plant operations and management, and governance and finance.

Questions about the financial viability of desalination projects persist. But the International Desalination Association's Oct. 20-25 World Congress in Tianjin, China, is not deterred. The meeting at the new Meijiang Convention and Exhibition Center is occurring in IDA’s 40th year of existence, and its technical program will cover "the most extensive range of topics ever presented at an IDA World Congress," according to the organization, with presentations by global leading experts in desalination and water reuse.

The Congress's sponsors include Toray, which makes the ROMEMBRA® reverse-osmosis membrane elements, used in desalination of seawater and brackish water, the production of pure water, and the treatment and recycling of effluent, as well as IDE Technologies Ltd., based in Isreal, which announced Aug. 6 that Mulpha Australia's Hayman island resort on the Great Barrier Reef, has selected IDE PROGREEN™ to provide high-quality desalinated water to the resort.

IDA has chosen San Diego as the site for its 2015 World Congress, taking place Aug. 29 to Sept. 4 at the San Diego Convention Center. This will be the first time since 1999 that the IDA World Congress will take place in North America. "IDA has established a rigorous site selection process that includes visits to the bidding locations, as well as evaluation according to a comprehensive set of criteria. Considerations include the availability of a venue with suitable size, layout, amenities, and proximity to appropriate hotels; local support; good travel connections, and customs/visa requirements; availability of plant tours and/or access to research centers; and regional interest in desalination," said Patricia A. Burke, IDA's secretary general.

San Diego is appealing because the Carlsbad Desalination Project will be nearing completion. The much-honored project, recognized as the "North American Water Deal of the Year" for 2012 by Project Finance, will begin delivering 48,000 to 56,000 acre-feet per year in 2016. But though the water will cost more than current supplies, San Diego Water Authority officials express confidence that won't be true for very long, and the SDWA pays only for water that is produced according to agreed-upon quality and quantity standards.

"This is wonderful recognition of the dedication and cooperation by all parties to work through complex issues and find solutions so that we could proceed with a vital water supply project that will be a cornerstone for meeting our region's water needs for decades," Thomas Wornham, chair of the SDWA board, said in response to the Project Finance recognition.

The project will produce as much as 50 million gallons a day of desalinated water starting in 2016, and it includes a 10-mile pipeline. The desalination plant is located beside the Encina Power Station in Carlsbad, Calif. SWDA touts the project's economic benefits for the region, including:

  • An estimated $560 million in local spending during construction
  • Creation of 2,500 jobs during construction and approximately 25 full-time employees and 175 indirect jobs once the facility is in operation
  • $50 million in regional annual spending once operational
  • Up to $5.3 million per year in incremental property and business tax revenues

The total cost for desalinated water, including the pipeline, is projected at $2,014 to $2,257 per acre-foot in 2012 dollars. "While that's more costly than current water supplies, desalination is a more reliable, drought-proof supply. Water Authority projections also show seawater desalination may be cost-competitive with imported water sources by the mid-2020s," according to the authority.