As an ex-San Diegan, I opened my dusty San Diego Roadmap to review San Diego water reservoirs I knew. My understanding is that San Diego is 20% dependent on the northern State Bay-Delta water, 65% on Colorado River, 15% on local surface/ground water, conservation (reservoir) and recycled water. Please kindly correct these figures if I’m wrong.
Two major San Diego Rivers (both about 50 miles) originate in the Cuyamaca Mountains. First, the San Diego River, from the northwest of Julian, a historic landmark for goldmines and today known for its apple-pies, flows southwest until it reaches the El Captain Reservoir, the largest reservoir in San Diego. Then it flows down through Santee and Old Mission Dam Historic Site before going by Fashion Valley through the floodway to Mission Bay. The other, called Sweetwater, runs down Alpine through Cleveland National Forest into Harbison Canyon (after John Harbison who built his honey kingdom there but was destroyed by fires - in 2003. President G. W. Bush inspected the site accompanied by both Governor Gray Davis and Governor Elect Arnold Schwarzenegger) and discharges into the San Diego Bay. Other reservoirs listed on the map include Sutherland, Cuyamaca, San Vicente, Dixon, Miramar, Morena, Loveland, Otay, Sweetwater and lakes include Henshaw, Barret, Hodge, Mohlford, San Marcos, and Del Cerro.
I have followed various attempts at desalination in California over the years, starting with efforts by Point Loma Naval Unit (taken to Guantanamo, Cuba), General Atomic testing and then SDG&E Carlsbad plant. Last year, it was reported that there was a breakthrough after decades of studies conducted and financed by Poseidon Water at the Agua Hedionda (stinking water in Spanish) desalination plant in Carlsbad. It utilizes the most advanced reverse osmosis technology in collaboration with the nearby Encina Power Plant (now owned by NRG Power). Poseidon Water is advertising a public plant tour on September 4.
I assume the plant completion is imminent. Once production starts, 50 million gallons (190,000 cubic meters) of water per day will be delivered to San Diego residents. I co-owned a house in Carlsbad with my son, so I felt pleased and proud of the achievement. The plant will be the largest in the western hemisphere and by 2020, the plant is expected to supply up to 7% of San Diego County water demand.
I compared Carlsbad’s 190,000 cubic meters of desalinated water with the Kumamoto’s water sprung daily at Ezu Lake. Ezu lately reported declining water levels but the Lake produces 50,000 cubic meters per day. The figures are just for comparison.
Note: Photo of Carlsbad beach wtih Encina Power Plant in distance was taken by my friend Haruo Toda (Hachioji, Japan)