"CARLSBAD, Calif. — There's far more riding on the Americas' largest seawater desalination plant than the 50 million gallons of drinking water it will produce for the San Diego area each day.
The plant, which opens this year, will help determine the future of seawater desalination in the U.S. The billion-dollar project is only the nation's second major seawater plant. The first U.S. foray in Tampa Bay is widely considered a flop.
"You have to be able to say we did it there, it worked there," said Peter Beland, North America editor for Global Water Intelligence, which tracks the industry.
Supporters consider seawater desalination a partial answer to drought in the U.S. Opponents say high costs and threats to marine life leave better alternatives, like recycling and conservation.
Huge by U.S. standards, Carlsbad barely cracks the International Desalination Association's list of 50 largest seawater plants, which are mostly in the Middle East. Its Israeli designer modeled it on one in Tel Aviv that produces nearly three times the water."