(Sept. 30, 2005) -- A 300,000 gallon-per-day LB Water Dept. prototype facility to desalt seawater -- the largest seawater desalination project of its kind in the United States -- is scheduled to begin an 18 month research trial today (Sept. 30).
The LB Water Dept.'s Seawater Desalination Research & Development Facility (vicinity of Haynes Generating Station in southeast LB) will focus on "desalting seawater in a cost-effective manner that is environmentally friendly."
The LB Water Dept. says the prototype desalination facility is part of an exclusive public sector partnership with L.A's Dept. of Water & Power and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Research at the temporary facility will last about 18 months and "will be at the forefront of all seawater desalination research and development, anywhere at this time."
Primary research will be centered on "further development of a breakthrough membrane technology, known as the 'Long Beach Method'. Already, two different, and independent, analyses have shown the technology to be 20 to 30 percent more energy efficient than more traditional desalination methods," the LB Water Dept. says.
In addition, the LB Water Dept. and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation are undertaking design and construction of an "Under Ocean Floor Seawater Intake and Discharge Demonstration System", the first of its kind in the world, "that will seek to demonstrate that viable, environmentally responsive intake and discharge systems can be developed along the coast of California."
The LB Water Dept. website says seawater desalination is expected to make up a small part of its overall portfolio (about 10%) although seawater desalination "is not a cost-effective option for water supply reliability in Long Beach, primarily due to the high cost of energy needed for operations and several abrasive environmental impacts...However, as the costs of imported water increase over time and the costs of desalination, and its environmental impacts, decrease, made possible by advances in technology, seawater desalination will become a more relevant asset in water resources management."
The LB Water Dept. says it will not pursue seawater desalination "unless our research efforts determine it can be done cost-effectively, with little or no environmental impact."