Israeli Company Building America's Largest Desalination Plant in California

Israel is a technological leader in the field and a model that points the way for drought-stricken California.

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An Israeli company is involved in building what is expected to be the largest seawater desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere, the Orange County Register reports.

When completed in 2016, the plant in Carlsbad, California will be able to provide 50 million gallons of potable water a day. Three smaller plants already operate in California, and 15 more have been proposed.

The $922 million plant is being developed by Israel's IDE Technologies in cooperation with local company Poseidon Resources Corp.

This is the one supply that San Diego County is investing in that is truly drought-proof, said Poseidon senior VP Peter MacLaggan. "It does cost more, but it has some reliability benefits that are very important to the regional economy.

Six decades of providing water in a country that's 60 percent desert have made Israel a technological leader in the field, a model that points the way for drought-stricken California.

In Israel, desalination now provides about one-quarter of the country's water supply. Each of IDE's three plants in Israel provides roughly double the output anticipated from the facility in Carlsbad, MacLaggan said.

Not everyone is happy with the project, due primarily to the high energy consumption and environmental impact of desalination. Katalyn Voss, a water policy fellow at the University of California Center for Hydrologic Modeling in Irvine, says that desalination should be considered in California only after other measures are exhausted.

The cracked-dry bed of the Almaden Reservoir in San Jose, California.Credit: AP

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