The Economics of Water

With the Carlsbad desalination plant now in operation, it’s worthwhile to note that the San Diego Water Authority has purchased the desalinated seawater for $2,131 to $2,367 per acre-foot in 2016.

The following table is from the “Where Will We Get the Water? Assessing Southern California’s Future Water Strategies” report issued by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation:

The LAEDC cost estimates for different water strategies

Other findings in this report include:

  • Increasing imported water is not feasible due to financial and environmental constraints.
  • The Dept of Water Resources reported that transporting water to Southern California from the:
    • Delta to Lake Castaic costs $212 per acre-foot
    • Delta to Lake Perris costs $391 per acre-foot
    • Water treatment costs add another $155 per acre-foot
  • Desalination of groundwater requires less energy than ocean desalination because groundwater is less salty.  As a result, greenhouse gas emissions from the groundwater desalination process is less than from ocean desalination.