Central Coast

Dear Jon: Transforming seawater to irrigate the land no easy task

Drought conditions put all options on the table

We just received some rain, but we went over 50 days of no rain on the central coast during the "rainy season." The drought is on and the natives are restless. "L" sent me an exasperated snail mail letter and he asked, "Dear Jon, we're surrounded by the ocean, there must be a way to get the water from the ocean to dampen our area. Right? Tell me how it can be done!"

It can be done but at the amounts to "dampen our area", you have to wonder if there is any process that is economical. Experts agree, the answer is no, because of the salt in sea water. Just dumping sea water on land would kill roots and over-salinate the land.

Golf courses do use reclaimed water, which is retreated sewage, to water their fairways. But at the amounts you're talking, it's not cheap to do.

If you're talking about a water desalination process, you'd have to move heaven and earth to get that done at the amounts needed to dampen our area.

Desalination plants on the central coast are the talk of the region these days and they're not cheap. And that's just to provide drinking water.

Bids range from $80 million for a small desalination plant to $277 million by California American Water that could be up and running for the Monterey peninsula by 2018.

There was a proposal for a desalination plant in Santa Cruz in early 2013 for more than $100 million that was tabled.

Just in the last two weeks in Santa Barbara, there's talk of restarting its water desalination plant at a cost of $20 million. The plant was built in the early 1990's during a prolonged drought at a cost of $34 dollars. After it was finished, rainfall increased and the facility was never used and some parts were sold off to Saudi Arabia.

Experts in water management on the central coast agree there's no easy, inexpensive way to convert water from the ocean to our land needs.

Scientists do seed the clouds to get rain when conditions warrant. The results of this process are confined to a particular area where the seeding occurs.

So to dampen our area, as you say, the best way is up to nature and good old rain.   

We did get a little this week, let's hope we get more.

If you have a question for me, click the link above or send it to DearJon@KIONRightNow.com. Or you can message me on Facebook at "Jon K Brent KIONKCOY" or Twitter "@DearJonKBrent".

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