Skip to main content

Practical Alternatives to Desalination

By January 1, 2017October 2nd, 2017Desalination

Desalination facilities are the most expensive method for replacing imported water and should only be considered after water agencies have implemented all cost-effective water conservation and efficiency measures.


Before the Orange County Water District commits ratepayers to paying billions of dollars for desalinated water, we should compare this with the cost of other alternatives.

Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) Low-Impact Development (“LID”) and the implementation of conservation strategies is a cost-effective and proven method to reduce our water demand.

Landscaping strategies include replacing water thirsty turf grass with California Friendly vegetation and designing landscapes to capture and infiltrate rainwater. We also have a long way to go in improving our appliances including ultra efficient toilets and clothes washers. Simple measures such as repairing broken pipes and water infrastructure is common sense.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Metropolitan Water District estimates 9.2% of the water used by water agencies in southern California is “unaccounted for.” One common belief of the source of this loss is leaking and broken underground water pipes and mains. For example, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power reports an average of 23 leaks for every 100 miles of pipe.

Infrastructure retrofit projects would increase the reliability of the water distribution system, secure the water we transport throughout in southern California, with the potential to create thousands of high-quality construction jobs and support the companies that supply the materials to increase our water security.