Carlsbad Desalination Plant EIR

The Carlsbad desalination plant is the largest seawater desalination facility in the United States, producing up to 50 million gallons daily of potable water, supplying 10% of San Diego County’s water. The plant ensures a locally controlled, drought-proof, high-quality supply of water for about 400,000 people.

Project Facts
  • Cabrillo Power and Poseidon Water
  • Carlsbad, California
  • Permits received from all major regulatory agencies
  • Plant operational since 2016
  • 50 million gallons produced per day
  • 56,000 acre feet per year

The Challenge

The Carlsbad Desalination project was undertaken to address the region’s need for a locally controlled water supply. However, the project presented challenges including the impact of the saline concentrate discharge from the desalination plant on marine organisms, potential reductions in fish populations from impingement and entrainment effects, and impacts on terrestrial biological resources associated with the pipelines that distribute the water to end-users.

The Solution

Our team prepared the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Carlsbad desalination plant and helped secure approvals and permits from all of the major regulatory agencies. The EIR included an extensive analysis of intake effects and salinity effects on marine organisms and addressed the impacts on terrestrial biological resources associated with the pipelines proposed to distribute the water. Other issues addressed included land use and planning, air quality, aesthetics, geology and soils, hydrology, cultural resources, noise, traffic, and utilities. The Carlsbad City Council unanimously certified the EIR.

Carlsbad Desalination Plant Virtual Tour

Learn how fish-friendly intake pumps and screens help protect sea life while ensuring a locally available water source for millions of San Diego County residents.

In Our Words

“An integrated approach to water supply management in California will inevitably include seawater desalination as a component. Completion of the Carlsbad Desalination Plant is an important milestone in water supply planning for California.”

Joe Monaco, AICP
President (Senior Project Manager on project)

What We Did

Our multidisciplinary specialties allow us to provide efficiencies that maintain project momentum.

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