Santa Clara County Supervisor Wants to Explore Desalination to Battle Drought

Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese said mobile desalination may be an option for South Bay residents to help battle California's historic drought.

Desalination is the process of pulling salt out of water to make it drinkable.

"We'll definitely be asking county administrative staff to start exploring desalination as an option," Cortese said.

In Southern California, a small water district is now operating a facility that purifies salt contaminated ground water.

In 2003, five Bay Area agencies investigated desalination and even opened up a small pilot plan in Pittsburg.

Desalination, however, is expensive -- costing as much as $1,800 to produce 326,000 gallons of drinking water.

"The cost is high and there are environmental impacts for removing salt from water," Santa Clara Valley Water District Spokesman Marty Grimes said. "It takes a lot of energy, which produces greenhouse gases and it may impact on fisheries in the bay."

The high cost of desalination is one reason why the water district is focused on other option, including replenishing groundwater with purified recycled water.

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